China decries travel, visa restrictions in global fight against novel coronavirus

UNTV News   •   February 4, 2020   •   547

China on Monday (February 3) denounced at a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting measures by “some countries” that have denied entry to people holding passports issued in Hubei province — the center of the new coronavirus outbreak — and to deny visas and cancel flights.

“All these measures are seriously against recommendation by the WHO,” said Li Song, who is China’s ambassador for disarmament at the United Nations in Geneva, during a WHO Executive Board meeting.

China’s regular Executive Board representative was unable to attend after her flight from Beijing was cancelled, Chinese diplomats told reporters on Friday (January 31).

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier on Monday there was no need for measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” in trying to halt the spread of a coronavirus that has killed 361 people in China.

China is facing increasing international isolation due to restrictions on flights to and from the country, and bans on travellers from China.

U.S. ambassador Andrew Bremberg said that the outbreak in two dozen countries required focused attention.

“We express our support, prayers, sympathy, and appreciation to the people of China and especially the health responders on the front lines, who are protecting not only their communities, but the world,” Bremberg said.

There have been 17,238 confirmed infections in China including 361 deaths, as well as 151 confirmed cases in 23 countries and 1 death which was reported from the Philippines on Sunday, Tedros said. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depetris, Ardee Napolitano)

IATF amends protocols, exempts some foreigners from travel ban

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has amended its earlier resolution to exempt some foreigners from a travel ban imposed by the Philippines against the new coronavirus variant, the Malacañang said Friday.

“The IATF amended its earlier resolution, IATF Resolution No 92, on all foreign travelers covered by travel restrictions because of the new COVID-19 variants by specifying those exempted, such as foreign nationals with valid visas, which include personnel of accredited international organizations, and spouse and minor children of Filipino citizens traveling with them,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“Those who arrive for medical and emergency cases, including their medical escorts, if any, are now subject to applicable testing and quarantine protocols as prescribed by the Department of Health (DOH),” he added.

The country’s travel restriction, which will last until January 31, covers travelers from the following countries:

  • United Kingdom
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • China (including Hong Kong)
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • United States
  • Portugal
  • India
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Jordan
  • Brazil
  • Austria
  • Pakistan
  • Jamaica
  • Luxembourg
  • Oman
  • UAE
  • Hungary

Meanwhile, from the strict observation of an absolute 14-day facility-based quarantine period for Filipino citizens coming from areas where travel restrictions are in place, Roque said the IATF amended this to prescribed testing and quarantine protocols.

“Further, Filipino citizens arriving for highly exceptional and/or medical reasons and local diplomats are now subject to applicable quarantine protocols as prescribed by the DOH,” he added.

On testing and quarantine protocols for passengers coming from, or transiting through, countries where travel restrictions are in place due to new COVID-19 variants, Roque said that these incoming passengers shall be tested upon arrival and shall be quarantined until the result of the subsequent test administered on the fifth day is released.

P70M worth of illegal goods seized in Parañaque City warehouse

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

PARAÑAQUE CITY, Philippines— Around P70 million worth of illegal goods were seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Tambo, Parañaque City on Monday (January 18).

A team consisting of members of the Port’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), Enforcement and Security Service (ESS), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) implemented the Letter of Authority (LOA) and inspected the subject warehouse.

The inspection resulted in the discovery of various smuggled Chinese cigarettes, Chinese medicines, prohibited surgical mask, foodstuff, footwear, garments, and other imported goods.

Further investigation and inventory are ongoing for further case build up and filing of charges.

WHO laments world’s poorest countries might get left behind in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has lamented that distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to the “world’s poorest countries” could face delays.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said richer countries and several private companies are buying up all the available vaccines. This also causes a spike in prices of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I need to be blunt: the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure—and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” he said.

Ghebreyesus reported that 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries while only 25 have been administered in one lowest-income country.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,” he noted.

WHO previously promised free COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries enlisted in the COVAX facility, which includes the Philippines.

The WHO Director General also expressed concerns that the pandemic may last longer if there is no coordination in the vaccine distribution across the globe.

“Not only does this ‘me-first’ approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self-defeating. Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,” he said. AAC (with reports from Mirasol Abogadil)

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