PH suspends issuance of visa on arrival to Chinese nationals amid coronavirus alarm

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28) — The Philippine Immigration Bureau on Tuesday ordered the suspension of "visa upon arrival" or VUA issuance to Chinese nationals amid the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus worldwide.

"We are now temporarily suspending the issuance of VUA for Chinese nationals to slow down the influx of group tours," Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

The new order only affects five percent of Chinese nationals who visit in the country as 95 percent of the Chinese tourists who arrive have already secured their entry visa from their foreign posts, Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said.

The VUA is granted to tour groups under Department of Tourism-accredited operators, qualified businessmen, athletes, and convention or exhibit delegates.

The Immigration Bureau clarified there is no order stopping Chinese nationals from entering the country, adding there is no directive from the national government.

Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the government to impose a temporary ban on all individuals who have passed through China's Wuhan City — the epicenter of the deadly novel coronavirus or 2019 n-CoV.

The virus has claimed the lives of 106 people and infected over 4,500 in mainland China. It continues to spread worldwide with over 50 cases in 14 countries.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its travel precautions for China to the highest level, advising its citizens to "avoid nonessential travel" to the country.