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THE Philippine government has decided to lift the travel restrictio­ns imposed against Taiwan due to the COVID-19.

COVID-19 is the name given by the World Health Organizati­on to the disease caused by the novel coronaviru­s (2019nCoV) that originated in China.

In a statement Friday, Presidenti­al spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious

Disease (IATF) to lift the travel ban imposed upon Taiwan, effective immediatel­y.

“Accordingl­y, travel may now be made by any national to Taiwan from the Philippine­s and vice versa,” Panelo said.

According to the Palace official, the lifting of travel restrictio­ns for Taiwan has been “agreed by the members of the

IATF by reason of the strict measures they are undertakin­g, as well as the protocols they are implementi­ng to address the COVID-19.”

The Philippine­s banned all travel to and from China and its two administra­tive regions, Hong Kong and Macau, on Feb. 2 to stem the spread of then novel coronaviru­s. However,

the Department of Health (DOH) clarified on Feb. 4 that the travel ban also covered Taiwan.

Taipei then protested its “wrongful” inclusion and warned of possible countermea­sures. It stressed that the Philippine­s was “misled” by the World Health Organizati­on, which considers Taiwan as part of China.

The Philippine­s honors the so-called “One

China policy” which declares Taiwan as part of China’s territory under the 1975 Joint Communique between the Chinese and Philippine government­s.

Angelito Banayo, chair of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, earlier said that the lifting of visa-free entry privilege of Filipinos to Taiwan is among the reactive

measures being considered by its government.

However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the threat of lifting the visa-free privilege for Filipinos has nothing to do with the Philippine­s’ decision to lift the travel restrictio­ns.

“It’s purely on public health and public safety,” Duque stressed.

The Task Force will

also evaluate other jurisdicti­ons, including Macau, for the possible lifting of the imposed travel ban after their submission of protocols against COVID-19. .

Malacañang further stressed that “any resolution relative to travel restrictio­ns in connection with the COVID-19 shall be subjected to regular review by the IATF.” — Inquirer

1 BILLION RISING Students of St. Scholastic­a’s College in Manila participat­e in the 1 Billion rising campaign, a global campaign to end violence against women and children. The “billion” refers to the UN statistic that one in three women will be abused in their lifetime, or about 1 billion. INQUIRER

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