By Gillian M. Cortez, Reporter

THE Philippines on Wednesday barred travelers from South Korea’s coronavirus-stricken North Gyeongsang province as it tries to contain the outbreak.

The government will also prevent Filipinos from traveling to South Korea, where more than 1,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus strain, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo told reporters. The ban also Jeju Island.

Filipino workers, students and permanent residents of South Korea are exempted from the travel ban provided they sign a declaration that they are aware of the risks of going there.

“The safety and security of Filipinos here and outside the Philippines remain our primary concern,” Mr. Panelo said.

“Our countrymen’s welfare is foremost in our minds as concerned officials discuss updates and recommendations on the management of coronavirus,” he added.

Mr. Panelo said Manila would assess the risks within 48 hours to determine if the travel ban needs to be expanded to other parts of South Korea.

South Korea reported 169 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total tally to more than 1,000.

The nation added more than 700 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in less than a week since a cluster of infections emerged from a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu. The number is expected to rise as the government widens its tests.

“In the meantime, strict protocols with respect to travelers entering the country from these areas in South Korea will continue to be observed,” Mr. Panelo said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday raised the country’s coronavirus alert level to the highest after a sudden spike in infections.

The Korean government has extended nationwide school holidays by a week and plans to enforce tighter two-week monitoring of arrivals from China.

The outbreak also forced South Korean technology giant Samsung Electronics to suspend operations at its smartphone plant in Gumi, 200 kilometers southeast of Seoul, after one of its employees was infected at the weekend.

There have been three confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, all of whom were Chinese nationals from Wuhan City, where the virus was first detected.

Also yesterday, Senator Imee Marcos said a direct flight from Daegu landed in Cebu in central Philippines before 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

Direct flights from Busan airport, only 85 kilometers southeast of Daegu airport, have also been landing in Manila, Cebu, Clark and Kalibo, she said in a statement.

Tickets were still being sold online by Air Asia, Air Busan, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Pan Pacific Airlines, Philippine Airlines and T’way Air, she added.

The senator noted that while the Philippine government had been focused on the return and quarantine of Filipinos from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Yokohama, it seems to have ignored the influx of tourists from South Korea.

“The World Health Organization had warned about the susceptibility of developing countries with poor healthcare systems,” Ms. Marcos said. “Quick action is our best defense.”

The lawmaker, who heads the Senate economic affairs committee, said the government might have to temporarily forego profits from the country’s largest tourist market “and make the hard choice of imposing a quarantine on flight passengers from Korea.”

More than 20 countries have either banned or imposed strict quarantine measures on travelers from South Korea, Ms. Marcos said, citing a report from the Korean Herald.

About two million South Koreans visited the Philippines in 2019, flying from Seoul, Busan, Cheongju, Daegu, Gimpo, Jeju and Muan.