Boracay eyes travel ban on mainland China tourists

AKLAN, Philippines – As the number of new coronavirus cases continues to grow, the Sangguniang Bayan in Malay, Aklan on Thursday, January 30 urged acting Malay town mayor Floribar Bautista to consider a ban on foreigners traveling from mainland China to Boracay Island. (READ: ’Novel coronavirus’ or 2019 nCoV: What we know so far)

"We should stop them from entering Boracay Island, the cruise ships coming also from China. Tayo ay concerned sa health and safety ng mga tao, ng mga ibang visiting tourists sa Malay at Boracay (We are concerned for the health and safety the people, of Malay and Boracay's other tourists)," town councilor Maylynn Aguirre-Graf stressed on Thursday afternoon, January 30.

Prohibiting tourists from mainland China may severely impact the tourism industry and economy of Boracay Island. Chinese travelers account for 50% or 434,175 of total foreigners last year. However, it would be a severe concern if the virus made its way to the popular island destination.

"Isang case ng coronavirus sa Boracay, sira na ang isla. Kailangan protektahan natin ang mga residente, our families from this global epidemic," Aguirre-Graf added.

(One case of the coronavirus in Boracay and the island is done for. We need to protect our residents and our families from this global epidemic.)

Sangguniang Kabataan municipal federation president Christine Hope Pagsuguiron said the local government of Malay, Aklan could no longer handle another worst-case situation after the devastation of Typhoon Ursula.

Huwag na nating hintayin na may coronavirus dito sa Aklan (Let's not wait for the coronavirus to reach Aklan). Why do we have to wait for the national government to move?" she said.

In Kalibo, the Provincial Health Office (PHO-Aklan) had reported that 11 Boracay tourists, all from Hubei province in China – the epicenter of the outbreak – were initially admitted to Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital on January 24. 

But while the Chinese nationals showed no flu-like symptoms, they agreed to be transferred to Gov. Corazon L. Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center in Old Buswang, Kalibo on January 25 for medical observation. 

They will be monitored by health authorities in the training center until February 3 for the 14-day incubation period. 

On Thursday, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first coronavirus case in the country based on laboratory results from Australia.

A 38-year woman Chinese national from Wuhan was admitted to a government hospital on January 25 after experiencing mild cough. She arrived in the country on January 21 via Hong Kong. 

On Friday, January 31, the number of confirmed deaths from China has risen to 212– Rappler.com