As another measure to curb the sudden spike of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Philippines is officially halting the issuance of visas, along with a temporary ban on all foreigners from entering the country.
The Department of Foreign Affairs' Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. broke the news minutes ago on his official Twitter page, also stating that foreign visitors flying out of the country will be provided with the ample help they need to do so.
“We are stopping the issuance of visas from all posts abroad and here. This goes one imperative step forward: a total ban on incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities, no exceptions. Outgoing foreign visitors should be given all the help to get out. Idiotic to detain them,” his tweet reads.
He also released a copy of the announcement. It reads: "Starting today, all our Embassies and Consulates will temporarily suspend visa issuance to all foreign nationals as well as the visa-free entry privileges of all foreign nationals. Moreover, all previously issued Philippine visas to foreign nationals are deemed cancelled. Visas already issued to foreign spouses and children of Filipino nationals remain valid."
The Bureau of Immigration also released a public advisory, as per the directive of Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, suspending the following office transactions in Luzon during Enhanced Community Quarantine.
- Filing of applications for extension of/conversion to non-immigrant/immigrant visa.
- Filing of applications regarding Filipino citizenship.
- Filing for downgrading of visa status.
- Filing for extension of tourist visa.
- Filing of applications for Special Work Permits/Provisional Work Permits.
- Filing for the renewal of ACR I-Cards.
- Implementation of BOC approved visa applications for extension of/ conversion to non-immigrant/immigrant visas.
Foreigners whose visas are set to expire during the quarantine period may file for an extension within 30 days from the lifting of the Enhaned Community Quarantine.
As of the Department of Health’s 4:00 p.m. bulletin this March 19, 2020, 15 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the country, bringing the total to 217, with the death toll remaining at 17.
Looking at the bright side, however, yet another patient was reported to have recovered today, putting the count of COVID-19 survivors at eight. CNN Philippines reports the discharged patient as a 48-year-old Filipino male with a recent travel history to Japan. He has since tested negative twice for COVID-19.
The entirety of Luzon will remain under enhanced community quarantine between the period of March 17 (12:00 a.m.) until April 13 (12:00 a.m). In line with this, starting tomorrow, March 20, outgoing international flights leaving Luzon will be strictly banned as well until the end of the imposed lockdown.