MANILA, 31 January 2020: The Philippine Bureau of Immigration Commissioner, Jaime Morente, announced earlier this week he had ordered the suspension of the visa on arrival (VoA) for all Chinese visitors.
The country’s Civil Aeronautics Board has already suspended direct flights from Wuhan province.
The Board of Immigration chief said. “We are now temporarily suspending the issuance of VoA for Chinese nationals to slow down the influx of tourists.”
Earlier in the week a special committee advising the government recommended visas should be suspended for Chinese citizens resident in Hubei province. However, the bureau’s announcement referred to just the visa-on-arrival processed at airports in the Philippines and made no distinction between travellers from Hubei province or other parts of China.
“We have not received any directive imposing policy changes on Chinese nationals,” said Morente. “But we are taking this proactive measure to slow down trave at this time.”.
The Philippines is not alone in suspending visa facilities for Chinese tourists.
Effective 29 January all Chinese citizens with passports issued in Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital city, as well as those who have been to the province in the past 14 days, will be denied entry to Singapore even if they are transiting at Changi airport.
Also, Singapore has stopped issuing visas to Chinese citizens with passports issued in Hubei and suspended its 96-hour transit-free policy. Singaporean visas which have already been issued to them will be temporarily invalid. The visa-on-arrival and visa-free services have also been suspended for Chinese with passports issued in Hubei province.
Malaysia has ceased visa-on-arrival facilities for travellers arriving from Hubei, while Indonesia has issued a warning to avoid all non-essential travel to China.
Sri Lanka has suspended all visa-on-arrivals for Chinese visitors.
Thailand is now screening all incoming passengers from China but has not changed its visa requirements. Its visa-on-arrival remains valid and includes the waiver of the THB2,000 visa-on-arrival fee. However, there are currently no direct flights from Hubei province the epicentre of the outbreak.
Kazakhstan has suspended its 72-hour transit-free policy to Chinese citizens.
Also effective 28 January, Chinese citizens must submit a health declaration form when entering Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the UK, France, Italy, the UAE and Australia.
As of 27 January, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea closed its borders to Chinese citizens.
On Thursday evening the World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global emergency due to its spread beyond China.