NO TOTAL BAN ON TRAVEL TO HK, CHINA

Manila, April 10, 2003 -- The Philippine government yesterday advised all 
Filipinos against making unnecessary trips to Hong Kong and Guangdong 
province in China in light of the rising number of Severe Acute Respiratory 
Syndrome (SARS) cases, buthas not imposed a ban on travel to those areas.

"Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon and I have agreed not to impose a total 
ban on all travel to Hong Kong as of yet, given the possible effects on our 
travel industry," Foreign Secretary Blas Ople said. Malaysia has issued a 
travel ban to Hong Kong and Guangdong and has stopped issuing entry visas 
to most Chinese travelers to curb SARS.

Consul General Victoria Bataclan in Hong Kong told Ople that she may 
recommend a travel ban to Hong Kong once the number of SARS patients 
exceeds 1,000 and the number of deaths continues to rise.

Of the 2,671 SARS cases recorded from 17 countries, 928 cases are in Hong 
Kong. At least 103 people have died of the mysterious disease as of April 7.

During the Sangguniang Kabataan National Convention and Eco Youth Camp at 
the Subic Freeport, President Arroyo said government is willing to 
undertake "extraordinary measures" to protect the Philippines from SARS.

Arroyo explained later in a teleconference that the "extraordinary 
measures" include a travel ban and the suspension of meat imports from China.

Bureau of Animal Industry director Jose Molina said that although the World 
Health Organization Office and the International des Epizooties already 
"hypothesized that the causative virus may be of animal origin, from 
domestic or wild animals," there is yet no basis for a ban on meat imports.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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