Philippines extends, expands travel ban vs COVID-19 variant from India


Posted at May 14 2021 12:11 AM

Philippines extends, expands travel ban vs COVID-19 variant from India 1
Travelers wearing personal protective equipment as a precaution against COVID-19 arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Parañaque City on March 17, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Philippines on Thursday extended its ban on travelers from India until the end of May, to arrest the spread of a COVID-19 first detected in the South Asian nation, and expanded the restriction to two more countries. 

Effective "0001H of May 15, 2021 until 2359H of May 31, 2021," travelers from Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), or those with travel history to these two countries within 14 days preceding arrival, will be banned from entering the Philippines, sad Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque. 

But travelers already in transit from these countries and all those who arrive before "0001 H" of May 15 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, Roque said in a statement. 

The health and foreign affairs departments recommended this, he said. 

The Philippines earlier suspended the entry of travelers from India and surrounding Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. 

"All existing travel restrictions of passengers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are extended until 2359H of May 31, 2021," Roque said. 

The Department of Transportation should ensure that airlines prohibit the boarding of passengers covered by restrictions, "except if they are part of the repatriation efforts of the national government," he added. 

The Philippines earlier this week detected its first two cases of the variant of COVID-19 first found in India. 

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The World Health Organization has classified the coronavirus variant, known as B.1.617, as a variant of global concern with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily.

The Philippines also previously recorded cases of a variant first detected in Britain and another first discovered in South Africa, as well as a homegrown P.3 variant. 

The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. 

– With a report from Reuters 

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