MANILA — The Philippines is again extending a travel ban that aims to keep out the more infectious Delta COVID-19 variant, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
The travel ban, which was set to end on June 30, would stay in place until July 15, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
The restriction covers travelers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman, he said in a press briefing.
Some overseas Filipino workers have been stuck abroad due to the travel ban.
"Alam ko pong napakahirap… Pero hinihingi po namin ang inyong pasensya at pag-intindi. Ito naman po ay isang napatunayan nang paraan para mapigilan po ang pagpasok ng mas nakakahawa at mas nakakamatay na Delta variant at Delta Plus variant," said Roque.
(I know it's very difficult. But we ask for your patience and understanding. This is a proven way to stop the entry of the more contagious and deadlier Delta and Delta Plus variants.)
The travel ban exempts repatriation efforts. OFWs who want to come home to the Philippines should contact the embassy or their manning agencies so that mercy flights could be arranged, officials earlier said.
The Philippines has detected among inbound travelers at least 17 cases of the Delta variant first found in India, where it caused a catastrophic wave of COVID-19 cases.
Last week, India declared a new coronavirus variant called Delta Plus to be of concern. Authorities said it showed increased transmissibility, and that nearly 2 dozen cases have been detected in 3 states.
The Philippines has maintained the mandatory use of face shields in public areas as an additional precaution against the Delta variant.
With 1,403,588 coronavirus infections, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 tally in Southeast Asia.
Active cases in the country hit 52,029 while deaths reached 24,456, as of June 28, according to the health department.
Authorities have so far been able to administer at least 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
The government aims to vaccinate at least 58 million of its 108 million population to achieve "population protection" and safely reopen the economy.