MANILA, Nov 27 (Mabuhay) — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) approved on Friday the temporary suspension of inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, and other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the new B.1.1.1529 coronavirus variant.

The order is effective immediately and until December 15, according to a statement by Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

The Bureau of Quarantine, in close coordination with local government units, has been directed to locate travelers from the abovementioned countries who may have arrived in the recent seven days prior to the temporary suspension of inbound travel.

These travelers shall be required to undergo full 14-day facility-based quarantine with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the seventh day or upon location of the passenger, whichever is later, with the date of arrival as the first day.

The IATF likewise approved the temporary suspension of inbound flights from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, which are adjacent to South Africa and Botswana.

Passengers coming from or having been to these countries within the last 14 days prior to arrival shall be temporarily barred from entering the country.

Passengers already in transit from the aforementioned countries and all those who have been to the same within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines and who will arrive before 12:01 a.m. Saturday (November 27) shall not be barred entry.

Instead, they will undergo stricter quarantine and testing protocols such as the observation of an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, despite a negative RT-PCR result.

Meanwhile, all passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through the abovementioned countries shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed in the airport the entire time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities. (MNS)

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