The Philippine government, through Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), has ordered suspension of all commercial flights to and from the country for one week, starting Sunday (May 03), to further mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the country.
Cargo flights, sweeper flights, medical flights, utility flights, and maintenance flights are exempted from the suspension order until further announcement from the IATF.
“This decision is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people by preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and also ensure that our overseas Filipino workers are well taken care of when they arrive from abroad”, the IATF-EID said in a statement.
According to the agency, the government has accommodated around 20,000 repatriates who are quarantined in Metro Manila, with an arrival rate of 2,000 per day.
It said the temporary suspension of international passenger arrivals would enable the government to decongest the processing of this number to a more manageable level, given the need to observe strict health protocols and that existing quarantine facilities are at full capacity.
“It will also allow the government’s frontline agencies that are tasked to contain the spread of COVID-19 to upgrade their testing and screening protocols, and expand the existing quarantine and treatment facilities and ensure a more comfortable quarantine arrangement for our repatriated kababayans,” the taskforce said.
The Philippines introduced curbs on immigration, travel, commerce and public gatherings in mid-March, days after the first case of domestic transmission. Entry to the country is closed to all except repatriated Filipinos.
Philippine airlines had already extended domestic and international passenger flights suspensions to mid-May.
As of Sunday, the Philippines has reported 9,223 cases of COVID-19 and 607 deaths. (Source: CNA)