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Bello asks DOH to lift Taiwan travel ban for returning OFWs

/ 04:59 PM February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has asked the Department of Health to lift the travel ban on Taiwan for the sake of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

This developed as Taiwan took strong exceptions to its inclusion in the banning of flights from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over fears of the COVID-19, formerly known as the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

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The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Manila clarified that it is a sovereign state separate from PRC.

In a press release issued by the DOLE on Thursday, it said that Bello is in “constant coordination” with the health officials, adding that he is confident that the ban would be lifted soon.

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“[…] Bello has allayed fears that the implementation of the temporary travel ban to Taiwan may have detrimental effects on overseas Filipino workers even as he expressed confidence that ban will be lifted soon,” the DOLE statement read.

“Bello said he is in constant coordination with the DOH, and had already requested the lifting of the ban on departing workers,” it added.

Bello likewise asked OFWs for their patience as the ban is still in place, vowing to provide financial assistance while waiting for the lifting of the ban.

According to him, members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are entitled to receive assistance worth P10,000, aside from accommodation, food, and transportation allowances.

“For those who are affected by the travel ban in Taiwan, we ask for your patience and in a few days, there will be a review. While waiting for the lifting of the ban, we are providing financial assistance,” Bello noted.

“We are seeking understanding from our OFWs because the implementation of a temporary ban by the DOH is for your own safety as well. We hope for a possible lifting of the ban in a few days,” Bello said.

Health officials previously said that Taiwan is included in the travel ban on China, drawing confusion as Taiwan claims sovereignty from the Asian superpower. DOH says that it is in accordance with the World Health Organization’s one-China policy.

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However, Taiwan relented, saying that it has been careful in handling the COVID-19 cases in their country, with only 18 persons infected as of Thursday and zero deaths — contrary to PRC where the virus originated, which has registered almost 60,000 cases and all but two of the 1,361 documented deaths.

With the ban, Taipei threatened Manila with “reactive measures” like canceling the visa-free entry consideration given to Filipinos, pointing out that only the Philippines out of other Asian countries made that move.

Edited by EDV

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: 2019 coronavirus disease, 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, COVID-19, Department of Labor and Employment, DOLE, OFWs, Overseas Filipino Workers, Philippine news updates, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Taiwan, TECO
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