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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the latest travel ban imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte on visitors from mainland China and other Chinese territories should not only include airline passengers but also the arrival of their citizens who are aboard luxury cruise ships, following the entry of the novel coronavirus (NCoV) in the country.

“The ban must also include the arrival of Chinese nationals and other tourists from China in cruise ships and other vessels,” said Lagman.

Lagman made the remarks after the Philippine Coast Guard last week allowed the entry of World Dream Cruise Ship in Subic, which carries 778 Chinese passengers from Hong Kong.

He added that it is only imperative to ban flights to and from the entire Chinese mainland, including Hong Kong and Macau which also have reported cases of nCoV respectively.

“The health and safety of Filipinos must be paramount over diplomatic niceties, tourism revenues, and income of Philippine airline companies,” he said.

Lagman also urged flag-carrier Philippine Airlines and budget airline Cebu Pacific to already “suspend all flights to and from China and Hong Kong,” following the pronouncement made by Duterte.

“They should stop servicing selective Chinese destinations and put on hold the current policy of merely reducing flight frequency,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the viral outbreak as a global health emergency.

The following countries, among others, have banned travel to and from China: Israel, Italy, Pakistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Singapore.

Vietnam has also stopped issuing visas to Chinese nationals while Armenia has suspended its visa-free travel agreement with China.

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