Philippines to ban entry of foreigners over coronavirus, 'no exceptions': Minister

German nationals disembark from a bus to catch a Lufthansa airplane repatriation flight outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, on March 19, 2020.
German nationals disembark from a bus to catch a Lufthansa airplane repatriation flight outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, on March 19, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines is stopping the issuance of visas to foreigners, banning all nationalities from entering the country to halt the spread of coronavirus, its foreign minister said on Thursday (March 19).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said on Twitter that he had signed an order stopping the issuance of visas domestically and in all foreign posts. He did not give a timeframe for the measures.

"This goes one imperative step forward: a total ban on incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities no exceptions," Mr Locsin said, adding that outgoing foreign visitors will be allowed to leave.

The Philippines has recorded 217 coronavirus infections and 17 deaths, mostly of which were reported in the past two weeks.

More than half of the country's 107 million population is under a month-long quarantine.