Taiwan likely to impose ‘calibrated response measures’ in retaliation over PH travel ban

Marje Pelayo   •   February 13, 2020   •   514

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Philippine representatives fear possible retaliation from the government of Taiwan should the imposed travel ban against the Asian state continue.

In a phone interview with UNTV News, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Angelito Banayo on Wednesday (February 12) confirmed that Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on her Cabinet to discuss measures in relation to the travel ban that was prompted by the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Banayo relayed a conversation he had with Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu.

“Inutusan [siya] ni President Tsai na maglista ng possible response o calibrated response measures at magme-meeting uli sila (President Tsai asked [him] to list down possible responses or calibrated response measures for their next meeting),” Banayo quoted the official.

One measure would be the cancellation of visa-free entry privileges offered to Philippine passport holders.

Banayo said President Tsai was obviously disappointed by the Philippines’ perception of Taiwan as being covered by the One China Policy when the Asian state has long been politically independent from communist China.

“Una, dahil parang lumalabas one China policy ang dahilan dahil hindi isinama ang Taiwan noong February 2, pagkatapos idinagdag na lang kaya’t nitong February 10 ang travel ban (Firstly, Taiwan was not included in the travel ban on February 2 but on February 10 it was added citing the One China Policy)” Banayo explained.

Taiwan has been exercising self-democracy and does not consider being under China, although the Chinese government insists otherwise.

Also, Banayo said, the Taiwan government does not acknowledge reports on the alleged severity of its cases of COVID-19 compared to its Asian neighbors because the government has handled its response to the virus “very well.”

“Pangalawa kung ang dahilan ay laganap ang nCoV dito ay hindi totoo iyon dahil 18 cases lang dito. Wala namang namamatay. Samantalang sa Singapore, Vietnam sa Thailand sa Japan at sa Korea napakaraming kaso compared sa Pilipinas bakit yun hindi naman natin pinapatawan ng travel ban? (Secondly in relation to coronavirus disease, reports about severe cases are not true because there are only 18 cases here. None has died while in Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Korea, the cases are overwhelming as compared to the Philippines. So, why is the Philippine government not imposing a travel ban against them?)” Banayo noted.

For this reason, the official is calling on the Philippine government to reconsider lifting the ban on travelers to and from Taiwan.

Otherwise, he said, Filipinos living and working in Taiwan will suffer the most.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo stressed that the travel ban was driven by the recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO).

But WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe on the same day countered Panelo’s statement saying there has been no recommendation for travel restrictions coming from them and that repatriation of citizens “is a political issue that is decided at a country level.” — MNP (with inputs from Amiel Pascual)

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Pyongyang disinfects the city after North Korea introduced tougher curbs against coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 29, 2020

North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.

Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.

The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.

Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

Taiwan reports 4 of 5 new COVID-19 cases came from the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   July 29, 2020

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported on Tuesday (July 28) that it has recorded five new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among travelers who arrived in the country on Sunday (July 26).

This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan to 467 since the start of the pandemic early this year. 

Out of 467 positive cases, 21 are imported so far.

Of the five new cases, all took the same flight on July 26, four were from the Philippines and one returned from Hong Kong, according to CECC.

The CECC identified the patients as follows:

  • Male (over 50y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in March. He returned to Taiwan on July 26 with a slightly elevated temperature at the airport. After the test, he was confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o)
    • He visited the Philippines for work in January. He noticed abnormality in his sense of smell and taste and sought medical attention in the Philippines on June 16. He took a COVID-19 test the same day, but he tested negative.  He returned to Taiwan on July 26 where he voluntarily reported his previous symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing. His test yielded positive results and was confirmed on July 28.
  • Male/Female (both over 70y/o)
    • A couple in their 70s who traveled to the Philippines to visit their relatives in January. The two cases returned to Taiwan on July 26. The male patient was asymptomatic while the female patient reported her symptoms to airport quarantine officers before boarding and upon entry to Taiwan. After COVID-19 testing was undertaken, they were taken to a quarantine facility. They were confirmed positive on July 28.
  • Male (over 30y/o) 
    • He traveled to Hong Kong for work in January and returned to Taiwan on July 26. He voluntarily reported his symptoms to airport quarantine officers who then arranged his COVID-19 testing and he was confirmed positive on July 28. 

All five cases are currently in isolation in a hospital for medical treatment.

Taiwan extends trial visa-free entry for Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2020

FILE PHOTO: Taiwan’s national flags in Taipei, REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

MANILA, Philippines — The government of Taiwan has extended its trial visa-free entry for nationals of Brunei, the Philippines, Russia and Thailand to further promote its New Southbound Policy.

In a meeting with other related agencies, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) decided to extend the visa-free entry for one year starting August 1 until July 31, 2021.

Likewise, the Project for Simplifying Visa Regulations for High-end Group Tourists from Southeast Asian Countries will continue for another year, lasting until December 31, 2021. 

The said adjustments to visa measures are based on previously existing policies, the MOFA stressed and “do not take precedence” over temporary border control measures put in place in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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