MANILA - The government body tasked with controlling the COVID-19 pandemic has banned travelers from 7 European countries, in addition to the 7 African nations it earlier placed under the travel Red List.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said Sunday that it was placing Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy under the Red List effective Nov. 28 until Dec. 15.
South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique were earlier placed in the Red List amid the threat of the Omicron variant first reported in the region.
The IATF said it will not allow inbound international travelers coming from or who have been to Red List areas within the last 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed, the IATF said. Even then, these Filipinos' entry will be subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List areas.
The government meanwhile said it will not bar passengers already in transit and all those who have been to these Red List areas within 14 days immediately before their arrival in the Philippines, or who arrive before 12:01 a.m. Nov. 30.
"They shall nevertheless be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the 7th day, with day 1 being the date of arrival, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result," the IATF said in a statement.
Passengers who have already arrived prior to November 28, and are currently undergoing quarantine pursuant to the classifications of their country of origin, shall complete their respective testing and quarantine protocols.
The IATF added that passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through these Red List areas, will not be considered as having come from these areas if they stayed in the airport the whole time.
"Upon their arrival in the Philippines, passengers covered by the immediately preceding paragraph shall comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols," the IATF said.
The IATF likewise approved the temporary suspension of testing and quarantine protocols for countries/jurisdictions/territories classified as “Green” effective immediately until Dec. 15.
Arriving passengers coming from Green List areas who arrived prior to November 28 may still follow quarantine protocols assigned to their country of origin upon the date of their arrival.
The IATF also approved the temporary suspension of its resolution providing for the entry of fully vaccinated nationals of non-visa-required countries.
"With Omicron designated as a Variant of Concern, the IATF likewise approved the recommendations to strengthen local COVID-19 response," the IATF said.
The Task Force also directed the Department of Health data analytics group to prepare models on the potential impact of the Omicron variant on prevailing protocols and approvals of the IATF.