Diplomatic relations with Beijing may turn sour if Manila decides to bar entry into the country of mainland Chinese as part of preventive measures against the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus here.
Heath Secretary Francisco Duque issued this warning during the “Question Hour” conducted in the House of Representatives yesterday.
Duque told House members that a temporary ban on Chinese tourists has been among the options being studied by government to dodge the deadly coronavirus.
However, he said there may be serious “political and diplomatic repercussions” with such move.
The Health official responded to a question thrown by House Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda who said government may be incapable of handling a medical crisis of the same proportion as that of the Wuhan outbreak.
Loren said prohibiting the entry of Chinese from Wuhan and other areas in China can be the prudent way to prevent a similar outbreak in the Philippines.
She asked Duque if it would be wiser and pro-active move to impose a temporary ban on “mainland (Chinese)” in any port in the Philippines.
“The confirmed cases are not limited to China,” Duque explained.
“If we do this, concerned countries, China in this case, might question why we’re not doing this to our countries,” he explained.
However, the Health official assured congressmen that the Department of Health will look into the proposal as soon as it makes the necessary revisions in the guidelines against the coronavirus.
“It’s very tricky and difficult issue,” Duque admitted.
Loren said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. agrees with her idea that a temporary closure of the country from mainland Chinese tourists has become one of the strongest options for Philippines to avoid nCoV.
“I just value too much the health of the Filipino people,” she said, citing the case of Subic residents who protested against the entry of a Chinese cruise ship. (Ben Rosario)