By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan Thursday urged the national government to suspend all visa issuances to visitors from Wuhan and other areas in China where the deadly novel coronavirus 2019 (2019- nCoV) disease has spread.
Soon after news broke about the possible pandemic from the disease early this week, Pangilinan has repeatedly called on the government to impose a travel ban on visitors from where the disease has started and already spread.
He pointed out the unequal treatment for Filipino and Chinese travelers, noting that the Department of Health (DOH) said it would quarantine Filipinos returning from China.
As of Jan. 28, Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan and have since expanded the travel ban to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million people.
Malaysia has suspended the issuance of visas for Chinese citizens from Wuhan and the areas around Hubei province to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV).
The U.S. State Department, for its part, has issued a travel advisory to “reconsider travel to China due to novel coronavirus,” while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued warnings Level 3 (avoid all nonessential travel to China) and Level 4 (do not travel to Hubei province, China).
“Kailangan nating pangalagaan ang mga kapwa Pilipino. Hindi biro ang sakit na ito. At hindi rin biro ang magkasakit sa Pilipinas,” Pangilinan said. (Government should take care of the health of its citizens. This disease is not a joke. And it is not a joke to get sick in the Philippines.)