The Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 is a disease that continues to affect many countries. As of writing, the World Health Organization announced that 196 countries have Coronavirus cases and this includes the Philippines. With this fact, a traveler like you needs to take note of this travel guide to the Philippines amidst the growing number of cases in the country.

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Currently, Luzon is under the enhanced community quarantine. The said quarantine was announced by President Rodrigo Duterte last March 16, 2020, to stop the disease from spreading any further. This is only days after the community quarantine was declared in Metro Manila last March 12, 2020. Here are the following guidelines for the enhanced community quarantine:

Mass transport systems will be suspended, which includes land, sea, and air travel. The travel advisory states that the only people that are allowed to enter the country are Filipinos, their foreign relatives or partners, people with diplomatic or medical affairs with the country, and those coming from countries without COVID-19 cases.

1. Citizens are strictly ordered to stay indoors, unless for basic necessities like food and medicine.

2. A curfew from 8 pm to 5 am will be observed, with exceptions from health care workers, call center agents, media personnel, peace and order officials, and local government officials as well.

3. Only establishments that provide basic necessities like food, medicine, power, energy, telecommunications, and money transfers are allowed to operate.

4. Deliveries and cargo services will still be available but will have to pass through checkpoints in different areas.

5. Work from home setup is encouraged in both the public and private sectors of the community. 

The said enhanced community quarantine started from March 17 and will last until April 12. But as the days go by, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country grew. Because of this, the enhanced community quarantine has been extended to locations even outside Luzon and this includes popular tourist destinations like Cebu and Boracay. 

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So if you are currently in the Philippines or need to travel in the Philippines, protect yourself and others from transmitting the virus by following these tips for Coronavirus prevention:

1. Observe COVID-19 health guidelines.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) had issued guidelines to protect you from getting the dreaded disease. Some of the ways to avoid getting the Coronavirus or any sickness include wearing a flu mask when going to crowded places, eating a healthy diet, and getting an adequate amount of sleep.

2. Stay tuned for any Coronavirus updates in the Philippines.

It might be stressful to stay on the news, but it’s the best way for you to find out any travel advisory from your country of origin. For example, with Manila’s lockdown or the enhanced community quarantine that is currently being implemented, you will learn the measures being taken by the Department of Tourism and even your own country in helping you go home. Plus, you will also get to learn more about the new guidelines in the area where you are staying that you need to follow during the pandemic. 

3. Follow your area’s quarantine rules. 

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If you research your travel destination before going there, you might as well use that skill in researching the quarantine rules in your area. For example, most locations in the Philippines right now are issuing free quarantine passes. These passes let only one member of the household buy basic necessities. Another example is in Boracay, where the local government is issuing curfews and controlled schedules for boat trips on the island. 

4. Postpone any trips, as of the moment.

It doesn’t just mean traveling to another country or area in the Philippines. It can also mean going outside your vacation home or hotel. Even if you are stuck in Boracay or Palawan, it might be tempting to head out of your home and bask in the sea with only a few people around. Yet even with the health benefits of the beach, don’t risk going out and possibly coming across a person with Coronavirus symptoms. 

During the enhanced community quarantine, you must also keep in mind that no travels are allowed except those that can be classified as 'essential’ travel, which means urgent family or business commitments. So if you have other planned vacations or trips, you will have to contact your airline company to rebook your flight (or manage it online) since you will not be allowed to leave the country.

5. Seek immediate medical help if you have the symptoms. 

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Be responsible for your life and that of others. If you have the symptoms, go seek Coronavirus treatment immediately. Don’t risk your life by brushing off your shortness of breath or fever as a normal one.  Don’t deny your symptoms nor your travel history to the medical personnel. Remember that these medical practitioners are also risking their lives to help you, so you might as well cooperate to save your life, too.

In the time of the Coronavirus pandemic, getting the virus is the worst-case scenario for any traveler. If you have the virus, you’ll be quarantined and it may take weeks for you to recover and go back to your home country or your house in the Philippines. With no possible vaccines for the virus yet, the only way to keep yourself safe is to be fully informed, follow government protocols, and practice health guidelines.