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Gov't lifts ban on outbound flights

The government has lifted the 72-hour window time for international flights to proceed, allowing all nationalities except for Filipino tourists to fly out of the country anytime amid the COVID-19 threat.

In a statement, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has decided, following a meeting on Tuesday, that only one person is allowed to bring a passenger to the airport and he/she must depart immediately after dropping off the passenger.

“The driver should carry with him/her a copy of the airline ticket of the passenger as proof of conveyance,” the DOTr said in a statement.

In addition, sweeper flights for foreign nationals to bring them to airports will be allowed to continue operations.

Inbound international passengers, on the other hand, are allowed entry, subject to strict immigration and quarantine protocols.

For passengers from Italy and Iran where there is a high incidence of COVID-19, or coronavirus disease 2019, cases, medical certificates of good health validated by their respective embassies are required before being allowed entry.

The Philippines has at least 187 COVID-19 cases as of March 18. Of this number, 12 have died.

In an earlier interview, DOH Undersecretary Rose Vergeire admitted that Metro Manila hospitals are becoming congested due to the COVID-19 cases as well as cases of patients under investigation and persons under monitoring (PUM).

President Rodrigo Duterte has already ordered enhanced community quarantine in Luzon in an effort to stop the transmission of COVID-19. --Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA News