The Philippines suspended on Tuesday the issuance of visas at destination for travelers from China to contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCov), although it has not yet confirmed any cases in the country.
“We have adopted this proactive measure to curb travel and help prevent the possible entry of 2019-nCov,” Immigration Office Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
The virus outbreak, which began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has infected more than 4,500 people in China and killed a hundred, in addition to spreading to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Nepal, USA, Canada, France or Germany.
In the Philippines there is no confirmed case, although the Department of Health investigates eleven suspected cases, most of them traveling to Wuhan in recent weeks.
Morente explained that the suspension of visas at destination is “temporary” and that it aims to reduce the “influx of group trips” from China, which is the second largest market for tourists to the Philippines.
The visa at destination is granted to tourists traveling with operators accredited by the Department of Tourism, qualified entrepreneurs, athletes and delegates of conventions or exhibitions.
The Immigration Office clarified that at the moment there is no order from the national government that prevents Chinese citizens from entering the country, although now they will have to do the relevant paperwork to obtain a visa at the Philippine consulates in China.
Last week, the Philippine Civil Aviation Authority suspended flights to the Philippines from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, after the Chinese government closed access to that central Chinese city to contain the spread of the virus.
Wuhan is only connected to the Philippines with flights to Kalibo airport, in the central province of Aklan – access point to tourist destinations such as Boracay or other islands – where it is estimated that there are about 500 Chinese tourists who will be repatriated to their country.