PH to lift travel ban on 10 countries starting Sept. 6 amid Delta spread

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2021 02:59 PM | Updated as of Sep 05 2021 12:18 PM

 Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) arrive at the lobby of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on July 01, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) arrive at the lobby of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on July 01, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines will lift the travel ban imposed on 10 countries starting Monday even as it continued to battle a spike of infections due to the more virulent Delta variant. 

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) ending the travel ban covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia starting Sept. 6, said his spokesperson Harry Roque. 

"International travelers coming from the abovementioned countries shall, however, comply with the appropriate entry, testing and quarantine protocols, depending on the country’s approved 'listing,'" Roque said in a statement.

The travel ban was implemented in some of the countries since early May, which aimed to prevent the entry of the more transmissible variant that first emerged from India. It has since been extended and expanded to more countries multiple times.

The World Health Organization (WHO) this week confirmed community transmission of the variant in the Philippines.

On Aug. 15, the Department of Health announced the country's first case of the Lambda variant, which studies have shown to be more transmissible and might affect vaccine efficacy. 

PH UPDATES 'GREEN LIST' 

Travelers who were fully vaccinated in "green" countries or those with low COVID-19 risk would be allowed to shorten their facility quarantine to 7 days, from the previous 10 days, upon arrival in the Philippines. 

These are the following countries:  

  •  American Samoa
  •  Anguilla
  •  Australia
  •  Benin
  •  Burkina Faso
  •  Cameroon
  •  Cayman Islands
  •  Chad
  •  China
  •  Comoros
  •  Republic of the Congo
  •  Djibouti
  •  Equatorial Guinea
  •  Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
  •  Gabon
  •  Grenada
  •  Hong Kong
  •  Hungary
  •  Mali
  •  Federated States of Micronesia
  •  Montserrat
  •  New Caledonia
  •  New Zealand
  •  Niger
  •  Northern Mariana Islands
  •  Palau
  •  Poland
  •  Saba
  •  Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  •  Sierra Leone
  •  Sint Eustatius
  •  Slovakia
  •  Taiwan
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GOV'T INTRODUCES YELLOW, RED LISTS

Roque said the IATF has also adopted the "yellow" and "red" classifications of countries based on their case count in the past 28 days per 100,000 and their most recent testing data. 

YELLOW LIST

Countries under the "yellow list" are considered "moderate risks" if they meet the following criteria, according to the government: 

  •  For populations that number more than 100,000, the incidence rate shall be 50 to 500.
  •  For populations that number fewer than 100,000, the COVID-19 case counts shall be 50 to 500.

The testing rate of countries under the classification will be based on the past 28 days per 100,000 population, authorities said. 

Inbound travelers from nations on the yellow list will undergo a 14-day quarantine, "regardless of their vaccination status" and will need to undergo RT-PCR testing on the 7th day. 

"Notwithstanding a negative test result, they have to complete their facility quarantine for 10 days," the statement read.

"They have to complete the first 10 days in a quarantine facility while the remaining 4 days must be spent under home quarantine in their respective local government units of destination."

The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) will monitor them for symptoms during the 10-day quarantine period.

 RED LIST

The countries under the red list are considered high risk based on the following metrics:

  • For populations numbering more than 100,000 the incidence rate shall be more than 500.
  • For populations numbering fewer than 100,000, the COVID-19 case counts shall be more than 500.

The countries' testing rate, meanwhile, will also be assessed based on their testing data in the last 28 days per 100,000 population. 

Inbound international travelers, except for returning Filipinos, will not be allowed to come to the Philippines, according to Roque's statement. 

Returning Filipinos, however, will be made to quarantine for 14 days, 10 of which will be spent at a quarantine facility while the remaining 4 at home. 

"Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated repatriation, non-government-initiated repatriation, and Bayanihan flights may be allowed entry, subject to entry, testing and quarantine protocols," the statement said. 

An RT-PCR test for inbound Filipino travelers on the 7th day will be conducted. 

"Notwithstanding a negative test result, they have to complete their facility quarantine for 10 days," the statement added.

Similar to the yellow list, the BOQ will monitor red-list travelers for symptoms during the 10-day period. 

The health department has recorded over 2.040 million COVID-19 cases, including nearly 159,000 active infections, as of Friday. 

In late June, India declared a new coronavirus variant called Delta Plus, a variant of concern. Authorities said it showed increased transmissibility, and that nearly 2 dozen cases have been detected in 3 states. 
 
The Philippines has also maintained the mandatory use of face shields in public areas as an additional precaution against the Delta variant. 

— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

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