President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday banned the entry of Chinese travelers from China’s Hubei province, the source of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and other Chinese regions affected by the outbreak, after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the Philippines’s first case of infection.

“Upon the recommendation of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque, the President has issued a travel ban to Chinese nationals coming from the Hubei province of China where the nCoV originated, as well in other places in China where there is a spread of the disease, as officially confirmed by the Chinese government. It will last until the threat is over given that the safety of our countrymen is foremost in the President’s mind,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said first reported case in the Philippines, a Chinese woman who came from Wuhan in Hubei, raised a “serious concern by the Administration on the health and safety of our countrymen.”

He said the Chinese woman “came from Wuhan, flew to Hong Kong, then to Cebu, then to Dumaguete and finally landed in NAIA (airport).”

“She is presently confined at San Lazaro (hospital in Manila). Per DOH Secretary Duque, the patient is being treated and isolated. There is no way that she will transmit the disease to another person as the hospital personnel are protectively dressed and their mouths and noses covered with surgical masks plus their hands covered with gloves,” Panelo said.

“The DOH assures us that every measure is being undertaken to contain the spread of the dreadful virus as well as monitoring and placing in quarantine those showing of symptoms of having nCov,” he said.

“We ask our countrymen to follow the advice of the DOH to observe personal hygiene as a preventive measure like regularly washing one’s hands and wearing surgical masks in going around crowded areas,” he added.

Some 200 people have died in the outbreak, and about 9,000 infected.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar urged the public to cooperate with the government and remain calm.

“Please avoid crowded places as much as possible, use mask and gloves, and practice of proper hygiene, in order to reduce any exposure to and transmission of the 2019-nCoV,” he said in a separate statement.

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said the president would meet with officials and experts next week to discuss measures to stop the spread of the virus.

“Rest assured that the Duterte administration takes this threat seriously. I am appealing to the public to cooperate with authorities in order to ensure the safety of everyone,” Go said. (