MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Wednesday questioned the inclusion of Italy in the country's travel red list as the Philippines ramps up measures to prevent the entry of the Omicron variant.
In a tweet, Locsin issued a demand for reconsideration, noting that the IATF’s Data Analytics Group “extrapolated a surge” based on only a case of infection as reported by the World Health Organization last Nov. 28.
“Why is Italy on the red list?... Our famously warm relations with Italy went down the drain. I want a reconsideration based on science,” Locsin said.
The IATF on Sunday placed Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy under the Red List effective until Dec. 15, in addition to the seven African nations it initially listed.
South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique were the first to be placed in the Philippines' Red List after the Omicron variant was confirmed by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern.
The IATF said it would 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, but that the Filipinos' entry will be subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List areas.
South Africa reported the Omicron variant to the WHO last week.
While much is still unknown about the new variant, the agency believes its high number of mutations may make it more transmissible or resistant to vaccines.
Several other countries have closed their borders to prevent the spread of Omicron.