More countries, including Japan, could be included in the country’s travel ban depending on the criteria that will be set by the government in determining future travel restrictions to contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the new criteria is set for release on February 28 once finalized by the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Duque, in an interview with radio stations DZMM on Thursday (February 27), said among the considerations being looked at in including a country in the travel restrictions are the number of local transmission of COVID-19 and the volume of travelers that go in and out of that country.
Latest reports said there were already 186 cases of COVID-19 in Japan, with 8 fatalities.
The government has already banned travels to and from China and the South Korean province of North Gyeongsang.
If Japan is included in the ban, the Philippines’s tourism sector will surely suffer a big blow, as South Korea, China and Japan are three of the top 4 tourism markets of the country.
In 2019, there were 1.98 millions arrivals from South Korea, followed by China with 1.74 million, the US, 1.06 million, and Japan, 682,788.
These markets recorded hikes in tourist arrivals in 2019. Korean arrivals went up by 22.48 percent, China by 38.58 percent, US by 2.90 percent, and Japan by 8.07 percent.
Overall, the Philippines received 8.26 million international visitors in 2019, up 15.24 percent from 2018.
“Depende, kung ito (Japan) ay pumasok (sa criteria)…Magde-decision ang task force,” Duque said.