Pangilinan wants preemptive ban for visitors from Wuhan, China

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Pangilinan wants preemptive ban for visitors from Wuhan, China

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) – January 28, 2020 – 2:25pm

MANILA, Philippines — Amid numerous persons under investigation in the Philippines, Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday called for a ban on all visitors coming from Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) is said to have originated from.

“While the Philippine health authorities have not confirmed a case of the rapidly-mutating deadly disease, it is best for them to be more proactive especially since the country may not be able to contain a full-blown epidemic given the continuing alert levels for Taal,” the senator said in a statement Tuesday. 

Although the Department of Health, in a press conference that same day, asserted that there are still no confirmed reports of the virus in the Philippines, the department also disclosed that they are monitoring 27 people who were potential carrierrs of the virus. 

“The progressive spread of the coronavirus and the increasing number of deaths due to it should prompt Philippine health and immigration authorities to preemptively ban visitors from Wuhan, if not from the most affected provinces of China,” he added. 

The worldwide scare over the virus was suddenly brought closer to home when a 5-year-old boy from Wuhan was admitted in a Cebu hospital for showing similar symptoms.

Furthermore, a Brazillian family was isolated in Palawan after it was found that they exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus. The family, too, recently visited Wuhan. 

“A total 1,626,309 tourists from mainland China visited the country from January to November 2019,” the senator reasoned. 

“That’s over 4,800 Chinese tourists every day.”

‘Human life before tourism’

Public Health Expert Dr. Susan Mercado, in an interview with ANC’s “Hot Copy” also that same day, said that consuming wildlife, which Chinese officials have said was illegally sold at a meat market in Wuhan, was problematic as these meats likely carried diseases and viruses that could mutate.

Mercado, too, was in favor of banning tourists for the time being, saying, “You have to weigh the risks and the benefits and I think there is no circumstance where tourism is more important than human life.” 

“Are we repatriating because of fear, or because there is a legitimate threat of getting sick? In Wuhan, there are about 150 Filipinos,” she said of the idea of repatriating Filipinos. 

“If I were to weigh the risk vs. benefit, I would say that if you were to repatriate, you’d have to walk them through an airport, ride on a plane, you’ll probably increase exposure.”

“This virus is inside human beings. To live, it has to be inside a human being. What we need to do is avoid those who are sick,” she added.