Philippines hails China's "unprecedented effort" against coronavirus
MANILA, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said on Tuesday that the Chinese government has "mounted an unprecedented effort to contain the spread" of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
"We acknowledge the determined and comprehensive efforts of the Chinese government towards containing this virus," Dominguez said during a senate committee hearing to assess the impact of the 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease on the Philippine economy.
Given the early stages of the outbreak, Dominguez said "it will be a challenge to estimate its potential economic costs."
Already, Dominguez said the country's tourism industry will likely take a hit from the outbreak due to various levels of travel bans imposed by several countries and airlines.
China is the Philippines' second-largest source of foreign visitors after South Korea.
According to the Philippine Department of Tourism data, Chinese tourists accounted for 21.73 percent of the more than 7 million foreigners that arrived in the Philippines from January to November 2019.
The Philippines received a total of 1,626,300 visitors from China in the 11-month period, up 40.20 percent from the 1,159,998 in the same period in 2018, data showed.
Dominguez voiced optimism that the Philippines can sustain its economic growth amidst the challenges buffeting the globe, including the fast-spreading coronavirus.
"At this moment, it is reasonable to expect that while these developments might slightly restrain our economic expansion, these threats are not enough to force a dramatic reduction in our growth estimates," he said, adding the government is standing by its working projection of a gross domestic growth rate between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent for 2020.
China is the Philippines' top trading partner.