DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to expand the country’s travel ban to visitors from mainland China and its administrative regions is a “very belated response” to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, the Gabriela Women’s Party-list said.
Last week, Duterte ordered a temporary ban on the entry of travelers from China’s Hubei province, whose capital is the now-well-known city of Wuhan and is the epicenter of the 2019-nCoV.
On Sunday, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go announced that Pres. Duterte has expanded the travel ban’s coverage to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Gabriela Party-list representative Arlene Brosas, in a statement on Sunday, said that the President’s travel ban “promises no sigh of relief for millions of Filipinos.”
“This is not a sign to let our guards down, as thousands of tourists from China with pending contact tracing data have already arrived in the country, and with dozens of patients still under investigation,” Brosas said.
On the same day, the Department of Health (DOH) reported the first confirmed 2019 n-CoV-related death in the country and outside China: a 44-year-old man who traveled to the Philippines from Wuhan, Hubei.
He was the travelling companion of the 38-year-old woman who was the first person to have been declared as testing positive for the 2019-nCoV last week.
According to the latest update from the Department of Health, as of 4:25 pm of Feb. 3, there are a total of 67 patients under investigation or PUIs who are admitted in hospitals.
More concerned with diplomatic ties?
Brosas slammed the order, saying it was made only recently while several foreign governments, including the country’s Asian neighbors, have already imposed travel bans earlier.
She also noted that the order came out following the outrage in social media of many Filipinos who were calling for Duterte’s ouster from the presidency, and expressing their dismay over the government’s handling of the dreaded virus.
Before coming up with the order, Pres. Duterte and other government officials were reluctant to issue a temporary ban on the entry of flights from China.
“Duterte has already outed himself as more concerned with diplomatic ties with Beijing that with Filipino women and the people’s health and welfare — and he cannot undo this unmasking of his traitorous considerations,” the lawmaker said.
Brosas added, “More importantly, such order is sorely lacking if the government would continue to uphold the cuts on disease surveillance and other vital health services, while keeping billions in discretionary funds untouched.”
The Gabriela Party-list demanded that funds allotted to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) be channeled to health services and to the inter-agency task force looking into containing the nCoV outbreak.
The NTF-ELCAC has been heavily criticized for engaging in vilification campaigns against progressive groups and government critics.
“We need to beef up and support our frontline health personnel, procure facilities for testing and monitoring, build effective isolation structures, and distribute enough supplies such as face masks to the general public,” Brosas said. (davaotoday.com)