By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — The Inter-Agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will be discussing whether or not to include Taiwan in the temporary travel ban to contain the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), a Health official said on Monday.
Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said the task force will be announcing the possible inclusion of Taiwan in the temporary travel ban within the day.
Currently, the temporary travel ban covers mainland China, and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macao.
“A resolution will be released coming from Inter-Agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for the inclusion of Taiwan,” Bayugo said in a Laging Handa press briefing in Malacañang.
“It’s not yet agreed or final. It will still be subjected to a discussion and agreement among the member agencies of the inter-agency task force,” he added.
Bayugo told the media after the briefing that he had no knowledge as to why the task force is considering the temporary travel ban to be expanded to Taiwan.
He floated the possibility that it could be related to the One-China policy which refers to the diplomatic acknowledgment of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.
“Isa is the One-China policy siguro natin (One reason might be the One-China policy). I’m not very sure,” Bayugo said.
Taiwan has so far 18 confirmed 2019-nCov cases and no fatalities. Authorities have banned travel to and from China.
There are approximately 120,000 documented Filipino and 20,000 undocumented Filipino workers in Taiwan, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Avoid mass gatherings
As a precautionary measure against 2019-nCoV, Bayugo said the DOH has discouraged the public from holding or attending large events or mass gatherings such as concerts.
Bayugo, however, said event organizers may push through with their events provided they observed precautionary measures such as frequent hand-washing, covering cough or sneeze, wearing of face masks among others.
“As long as you observe strict precaution…we will assume that people will be responsible of taking care of their health,” Bayugo said. “We’re just recommending. We’re reminding people that these are times that we need to be extra careful.”
Despite this health advisory, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said President Rodrigo Duterte will still show up in two scheduled events on Monday — a meeting with local chief executives at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City and the 22nd founding anniversary of the Chinese-Filipino business club at the Manila Hotel.
Duterte earlier admitted that he still continues to shake hands in public engagements.
He has also expressed interest to visit the Filipino repatriates from Wuhan City, China, the epicenter of the nCoV outbreak, who are currently undergoing prescribed 14-day quarantine period at Athlete’s Village in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
Malacañang earlier assured that the government will shoulder all hospital costs of those undergoing quarantine. (PNA)