MANILA — Foreign travelers from China and 4 other territories will be banned from entering the Philippines to halt the spread of a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
The expanded travel restrictions will apply to the following areas effective 12:01 noon of Jan. 13 until Jan. 15, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Filipinos coming from these territories can still come home, but subject to the absolute 14-day quarantine, kahit ano man po ang resulta ng kanilang (whatever the result of their) PCR test," he told reporters in an online briefing.
Beijing in early January had reported that a 23-year-old woman who arrived from the United Kingdom tested positive for the new COVID-19 strain first detected in UK.
But China was not included in the expanded travel bans that Malacañang announced last Jan. 6.
"Kasi hindi pa po 'yan nare-report ng mga international agencies na kumpirmado. Ang alam lang po natin ay media reports," Roque reasoned.
"Kung mayroon namang confirmation, siyempre, isasali rin sila. As of now wala pang confirmation," he added.
(That has not yet been reported by international agencies as confirmed. What we know are media reports. If there is a confirmation, of course they will be included. As of now, there is no confirmation yet.)
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 489,000 coronavirus infections.
Video courtesy of PTV