Philippines likely to ban foreign travelers from UAE after Pinoy gets new COVID-19 variant

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2021 03:36 PM | Updated as of Jan 14 2021 03:46 PM

A man receives a dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates December 28, 2020. Picture taken Dec. 28, 2020. Abdel Hadi Ramahi, Reuters/File

MANILA — The Philippines is likely to ban the entry of foreign travelers from the United Arab Emirates to halt spread of the new, more contagious variant of COVID-19, Malacañang said on Thursday. 

The health department earlier Thursday recommended travel restrictions on the UAE after a Filipino traveler who recently came from Dubai tested positive for the new SARS-CoV-2 variant. 

"Because of this discovery, chances are yes, there will be travel restrictions imposed on the UAE," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

"Hintayin na lang po natin ang pormal na desisyon ng ating Presidente, which will be forthcoming very soon," he told reporters in an online briefing.

(Let us just wait for the formal decision of our President.)

The Philippines has banned until Jan. 15 foreign travelers from the following places that have reported the new variant first detected in the United Kingdom. The inter-agency task force, Roque said, would meet on whether or not to extend this ban.

Filipino travelers from these areas are allowed to return to the Philippines and are required to undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine. 

"Nanindigan na po ang Presidente, walang Pilipino na pupuwedeng mapigilang umuwi... Karapatang pantao po iyan ng lahat ng Pilipino," Roque said. 

(The President has maintained that no Filipino could be barred from coming home. That is a human right of all Filipinos.)

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