Philippine authorities declare public health emergency March 9, due to COVID-19. Restrictions, including travel bans, remain in place.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 09 Mar 2020 04:02 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport restrictions, heightened security, enhanced health screenings; possible localized business disruptions, protests

Summary
The Philippine government has declared a state of public health emergency in the country, March 9, as part of the attempt to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Department of Health had raised the alert level to red, March 7, following confirmed cases of local transmission before it advised the government to declare the public health emergency status. Under the emergency status, the government can issue quarantine orders to suspected COVID-19 individuals; refusals to comply can result in sanctions. Additionally, public health emergency status enables the government to control prices of basic commodities and to purchase medical equipment without a bidding process.

Other restrictions, such as travel bans to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea's North Gyeongsang Province and Daegu, remain in place, with some limited exemptions. For instance, Filipinos who study or work in South Korea or who are permanent residents of the country can still visit South Korea after signing a declaration signifying their understanding of the risks involved in traveling to the country. Similarly, Filipinos who work in Hong Kong and Macau are allowed to return to the two locations. Additionally, officials have banned foreigners who have been to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea's North Gyeongsang Province and Daegu in the past 14 days from entering the Philippines. Authorities also require Philippine citizens and permanent residents with recent trips to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

Several airlines have suspended or reduced services between the Philippines and mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea. Additional travel restrictions on countries with significant COVID-19 activity, such as Iran, Italy, Japan, and Singapore, cannot be ruled out. The duration of the restrictions will likely depend on the course of the outbreak in China, South Korea, and other countries.

Local officials have also limited transport in some cities. Reports indicate that authorities in several cities, such as Kibungan, Benguet Province, and Balbalan and Tinglayan, Kalinga Province, have restricted tourist entry due to COVID-19 concerns; it is unclear whether the measures apply to Philippine nationals. Heightened security - particularly checkpoints - is highly likely in the cities to monitor travel. The central government also deployed additional police officers in New Clark City, Tarlac Province, due to the quarantine of evacuated citizens from Japan. The measures may prompt localized business disruptions and demonstrations by residents in some areas.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Consider deferring nonessential travel to areas with movement restrictions until authorities lift precautionary measures. Carry proper identification documents to present at security checks. Avoid any demonstrations as a precaution.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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