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Philippines bans travelers from US over new coronavirus variant


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The Philippines has included the United States in the list of countries subject to travel restrictions due to the threat of the new coronavirus variant.

"In this regard, foreign passengers coming from the US, or who have been to the US within 14 days preceding arrival in the Philippines, shall be prohibited from entering the country effective January 3, 2021, 12:01AM, Manila time, until January 15, 2021," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Friday.

Roque, however, said "effective immediately" passengers coming from the US, or who have been to the US within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, arriving before January 3, 2021, 12:01AM, Manila time, shall be allowed to enter the Philippines. 

"However, they shall be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, even if they obtain a negative RT-PCR test result," he said.

Roque said the inclusion of the US in the list was recommended by the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs and approved by the Office of the President.

The Philippine government has initially imposed a travel ban on travelers coming from the United Kingdom over the new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The list was soon expanded to include:

  1. Denmark
  2. Ireland
  3. Japan
  4. Australia’
  5. Israel
  6. The Netherlands
  7. Hong Kong
  8. Switzerland
  9. France
  10. Germany
  11. Iceland
  12. Italy
  13. Lebanon
  14. Singapore
  15. Sweden
  16. South Korea
  17. South Africa
  18. Canada and
  19. Spain

According to Roque, both Filipino and foreign transiting passengers from countries covered by the travel ban “shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to that country” provided that they remained in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.

They are also not required to complete a 14-day facility-based quarantine in the Philippines and may be allowed to undergo quarantine at their respective homes after receiving a negative RT-PCR test result at the point of entry.

“Transiting foreign passengers who left the airport or were cleared for entry into the country covered by our travel restrictions shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines,” Roque said.

Meanwhile, transiting Filipinos who left the airport or were cleared for entry may be allowed to enter the Philippines but must undergo a facility-based 14-day quarantine period even with a negative COVID-19 test result.

The Philippines reported a total of 475,820 COVID-19 cases as of January 1. Of this number, 439,895 have recovered and 9,248 have died.

There were 26,677 active cases. — Joahna Lei Casilao/KBK, GMA News

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