The Philippine government is now denying visa-on-arrival applications from tourists originating from Wuhan, China amid risks posed by the 2019 novel coronavirus.
The denial of applications came after the suspension of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) of flights from Wuhan to the Philippines to prevent the virus from spreading into the country, according to the Bureau of Immigration.
The BI launched the visa-upon-arrival scheme in 2017 to attract more tourists and investors from China.
Prior to the flight suspension, Philippines-based carriers Pan Pacific Airlines and Royal Air flew in 1,759 Chinese tourists to the Philippines and flew out 1,651 from December 1 to 31, 2019.
For this year alone, the BI recorded 3,012 arrivals and 2,308 departures onboard the two airlines.
Chinese authorities have put Wuhan on lockdown while hundreds of medical personnel have been deployed to the city to treat and stem the outbreak.
On Sunday morning, China announced that the death toll caused by the virus climbed to 56, including one new in Shanghai.
Outside China, a total of 1,900 people have been confirmed infected, of which 237 patients are in critical condition.
Several international airlines, such as AirAsia Group Berhad, Thai AirAsia, and Malindo Air, have announced the suspension of direct flights to the Chinese city, while global airports have set-up their screenings to prevent the entry of the virus into their countries.
Healthcare officials in China have also declared a lack of supplies due to the rising number of patients with the virus.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization said that its committee expressed divergent views on whether the virus could constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
“Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“It may yet become one,” he added.
PHOTO COURTESY: FLICKR