MANILA — The Philippines is widening to 4 more counties a travel ban that aims to prevent the entry of a COVID-19 variant first detected in India, which is battling the world's worst surge in coronavirus infections, a Palace document released Wednesday said.
According to a memorandum from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, travelers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka will be prohibited from entering the Philippines starting "0001H of 07 May Manila time until 2359H 14 May 2021."
The travel curb covers those who had been to these four countries within 14 days immediately before arrival to the Philippines, said the memo.
But travelers from these countries who arrive before May 7 can enter the Philippines. They will, however, be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR test result for the novel coronavirus, the memo added.
The memo said that travelers, including Filipinos, who merely transited through the said countries (they only stayed the airport the whole time) need not complete a full 14-day facility-based quarantine. But they must comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols of the national government.
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka all ring India.
The Philippines earlier suspended the entry of travelers from India from April 29 to May 14.
Nationwide, India has recorded over 20 million infections since the start of the epidemic, the second-highest in the world after the United States, and over 225,000 deaths.
Hospitals in India are scrabbling for beds and oxygen as they desperately battle a second deadly surge of infections, while morgues and crematoriums struggle to deal with a seemingly unstoppable flow of bodies.
Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen.
Nepal is being overwhelmed by a COVID-19 surge as India's outbreak spreads across South Asia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Wednesday.
– With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters