Philippines expands travel curbs to 6 more countries over new COVID-19 variant

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2021 07:50 PM

Philippines expands travel curbs to 6 more countries over new COVID-19 variant 1
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 lies mostly empty on Dec. 23, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Philippines this week will prohibit the entry of foreign travelers from 6 more countries to prevent the spread of a more infectious new variant of COVID-19, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the ban on foreign travelers who are coming from or who have been to the following areas 14 days before arrival in the Philippines will be in effect from Jan. 8, 2021, 12:01 a.m. Manila time, until Jan. 15, 2021:

  • Portugal
  • India 
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Jordan
  • Brazil

Foreign travelers from these areas who arrive before Jan. 8 will be allowed to enter the Philippines and required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, even if they obtain a negative RT-PCR coronavirus test result, Roque said in a statement. 

Filipino coming from or who have been to the 6 countries, including those arriving after Jan. 8, 2021, will also be allowed to enter the country and required to undergo quarantine, he said. 

The new COVID-19 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom, which has since been covered by Philippine travel restrictions. The curbs also cover the US and 19 other territories. 

From Jan. 8, all unaccompanied, underaged Filipinos from areas covered by the travel ban "shall not be allowed entry until January 15, 2021, except minors returning through the repatriation program of the national government," said Roque. 

"These repatriated minors shall be turned over to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration house parent who, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), shall ensure the minors’ safety and their observance of quarantine protocols," he added. 

The Philippines has not yet detected a case of the new COVID-19 variant, which British scientists have named "VUI – 202012/01."

The variant includes a genetic mutation in the "spike" protein, which could theoretically result in easier spread of COVID-19.

The Philippines has tallied some 480,000 coronavirus infections. 

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