Taiwan urges PH to ‘quickly’ lift travel ban or else…

Marje Pelayo   •   February 13, 2020   •   1170

Taiwan Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Joanne Ou

TAIPEI, Taiwan (REUTERS) – The island’s government is considering countermeasures if the Philippines does not lift a ban on Taiwanese citizens visiting the country over fears about the coronavirus, the island’s foreign ministry said on Thursday (February 13).

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said they were waiting for the government in Manila to meet to discuss this issue and make a decision, so would not go into specifics about what sanctions Taiwan may impose.

“The government has a plan and doesn’t rule out any possibilities, but before they (the Philippines) have called their meeting (about lifting ban for flights from Taiwan), they haven’t called a meeting yet, and made a decision,” said Taiwan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Joanne Ou.

Ou said Taiwan wants the Philippines to understand that its decision is one-sided and a wrong move specifically by the Philippines’ health department.

“The main problem is that the health ministry of the Philippines made an unassisted decision on February 10 and immediately notified the Philippine civil aviation authority to request the implementation of such a travel ban (for Taiwanese), leading to this result,” the official noted.

That decision, she emphasized, has already affected the relationship between Taiwan and the Philippines.

“But before it comes to this, we will continue to communicate with the Philippines,” the spokeswoman stressed.

“We of course have already expressed our high degree of discontent, our regret and protest. We hope that the Philippine government can correct this decision as quickly as possible,” she added.

The Philippines, with more than 115,000 of whose nationals work in Taiwan in factories and as domestic helpers, said this week it had included Taiwan as part of a ban on people from China visiting the country.

Taiwan and the Philippines have close economic and cultural ties, but no formal diplomatic relations, as the Philippines, like most countries, only recognises the government in Beijing, and not in Taipei.

Taiwan has repeatedly complained that with its 18 virus cases compared with some 60,000 in China, it is unfair for the WHO to lump them together with China and mislead other countries into believing Taiwan faces an equally dire epidemic.

It is governed entirely separately from China, but Beijing claims the island as its own and the World Health Organization (WHO) clubs its virus cases in the category for China, which has led some countries to impose the same restrictions on Taiwanese as on Chinese citizens.

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.

WHO says travel bans cannot be indefinite; countries must fight virus

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2020

Bans on international travel cannot stay in place indefinitely, and countries are going to have to do more to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus within their borders, the World Health Organization said on Monday (July 27).

A surge of infections has prompted countries to reimpose some travel restrictions in recent days, with Britain throwing the reopening of Europe’s tourism industry into disarray by ordering a quarantine on travellers returning from Spain.

Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world manage to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a virtual news briefing in Geneva.

WHO emergencies programme head Mike Ryan said it was impossible for countries to keep borders shut for the foreseeable future.

“It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future. Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume,” he said.

“What is clear is pressure on the virus pushes the numbers down. Release that pressure and cases creep back up.”

Ryan said Spain’s current situation was nowhere near as bad as it had been at the pandemic’s peak there, and he expected clusters to be brought under control, though it would take days or weeks to discern the disease’s future pattern. (Reuters)

(Production: Lucien Libert, Ardee Napolitano, Stephanie Nebehay)

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