Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Manila’s national carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL) shall have its last Manila-Dubai-Manila services this weekend.
“We are cancelling all our flight operations and our scheduled 12 midnight Thursday Dubai-Manila, PR 658, which is fully booked, will be our last one for now,” PAL-UAE Country manager Agnes Pagaduan said on Thursday afternoon.
Pagaduan was contacted since on Thursday and according to a report from the national news agency WAM, “The UAE has suspended the entry of all its valid residence visa holders, who are currently out of the country for a renewable period of two weeks effective 12 noon of Thursday, March 19,” to further strengthen its goal to eradicate Coronavirus 2019 (COVID19).
As of March 18 (Wednesday), total number of COVID19 cases in the UAE was at 113 up from 98 the previous day.
Pagaduan added: “We are cancelling all flights because majority of our passengers are the overseas Filipino workers here.”
Among PAL Dubai-Manila-Dubai passengers are also visit visa holders.
The UAE government had announced on March 14 (Saturday) that it would stop issuing all visas, except for the Diplomatic Community effective March 17 (Tuesday).
On Thursday, Gulf Today reported that PAL would continue its evening and early morning Dubai-Manila-Dubai haul (average eight hours per leg), following the Duterte Administration’s withdrawal of its March 17 (Tuesday) pronouncement on the 72-hour window for international passengers-both Filipinos (either visiting or tourists and even overseas workers) and foreigners-to leave Metro Manila, part of the “enhanced community quarantine” of the entire Luzon Island.
Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted: “We are stopping the issuance of visas from all posts abroad and here (Philippines). This goes one imperative step forward: a total ban on incoming foreign visitors of all nationalities, no exceptions. Outgoing foreign visitors should be given all the help to get out.”
Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Paul Raymund Cortes on Monday said: "All consular services which would include passport, authentication, visa, civil registry shall only be attended to after April 8, Wednesday."
the decision stems from the UAE's keenness to enable those holding valid residence visas to get reunited with their families after having been affected by the precautionary measures taken under the current exceptional circumstances to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Saturday that, its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
On Monday the health ministry said around 280,000 cases and 4,106 deaths were confirmed in the last 24 hours. Both numbers are almost certainly undercounts.
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