PH expands travel ban to more countries over new COVID-19 variant

THE Philippines has expanded its travel ban to 19 more countries in an effort to address the threat of the new COVID-19 variant.

In a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte has banned the entrance of all foreign passengers coming from the following countries:

• Denmark
• Ireland
• Japan
• Australia
• Israel
• The Netherlands
• Hong Kong, SAR
• Switzerland
• France
• Germany
• Iceland
• Italy
• Lebanon
• Singapore
• Sweden
• South Korea
• South Africa
• Canada
• Spain

The order took effect starting Wednesday, December 30, until Jan. 15, 2021.

Those who are already in transit and will arrive before December 30, including returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), will be allowed to enter. However, they are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period regardless of their negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result.

Duterte also approved the extension of the temporary suspension of flights from, and the prohibition of entry on all travelers coming from or transiting through, the United Kingdom until Jan. 15, 2021.

Filipino citizens coming from the aforementioned countries will be allowed to enter provided they undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine despite a negative RT-PCR test result.

“That was the decision of our president. He was very firm in deciding that the restriction will only apply to other travelers from [the] UK and the 20 other countries. And he exempted our OFWs, because he said, I want our OFWs to go home to their families,” said Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Earlier this month, the UK detected a new COVID-19 variant called VUI 202012/01, which is believed to be more transmissible than other known variants.

Countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, and France later announced that they have confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 variant.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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