The government has lifted restrictions imposed on Filipinos travelling to South Korea, but visitors from coronavirus-hit areas are still banned from entering the Philippines.

The decision was made following a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Tuesday at the Department of Health, Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

Panelo said travel to virus-hit areas in South Korea remained prohibited, however.

“The IATF has approved to allow Filipinos to travel to South Korea except to the whole of North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County, where the virus outbreak is concentrated,” he told reporters.

“All Filipinos who intend to visit other parts of South Korea shall execute and sign a declaration, signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in their trip,” he added.

Panelo also said the ban on the entry of foreign nationals travelling from North Gyeongsang Province, including Daegu City and Cheongdo County, into Philippine territory, “remains effective.”

“Guided by the Health Security Risk Assessment Matrix, which evaluates the hazard, exposure and context relative to the risks involved, the IATF has also agreed that there are to be no new imposition of travel restrictions or lifting of the same as regards other countries or jurisdictions. The IATF assures that the review concerning travel restrictions and protocols to and from the Philippines shall be regularly conducted by it,” he said.

Panelo said the Department of Foreign Affairs was preparing for the repatriation of 148 Filipinos from Macau through a chartered flight, while the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration was arranging to repatriate 48 active members, also in Macau, through a commercial flight.

In Monday’s Cabinet meeting, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported that the Philippines did not have new positive cases of COVID-19 in the last four weeks. “This means that as of present time, the Philippines has zero cases of persons suffering from the virus,” Panelo said.

Duque also reported that the World Health Organization had acknowledged Philippine efforts in containing the virus and that the Philippines was among the nine countries able to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Duque said the response involved incident management, planning and multi-sectoral coordination; surveillance and risk assessment; laboratory and diagnostic capacity; clinical best practice management; the successful repatriation of all 49 Filipinos from Wuhan, the origin of the virus; positioned resources, such as personal protective equipment; risk communication and community engagement; imposition of a travel ban on China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and selected areas in South Korea; and operational logistics. (