Philippines lifts travel ban on Taiwan amid coronavirus fears

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The Philippines on Friday lifted a coronavirus travel ban on Taiwan after Taipei threatened retaliation.

Taiwan had hit out at countries that “confuse” it with China and included it in travel restrictions for Chinese territories against the virus that has claimed nearly 1,400 lives.

Taiwan foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou told reporters earlier Friday the island had drawn up certain “response measures” while waiting for a reply to its demand to lift the travel ban.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo later announced in Manila the immediate lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque cited “the absence of local transmission” of the virus there and the “relatively low volume of travelers from Taiwan to Manila”.

Some 150,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, enjoying visa-free entry that reports said could have been withdrawn in retaliation.

Beijing views self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to eventually take the island, by force if necessary.

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