MANILA, Dec 29 (Mabuhay) — The Philippine government has expanded to 20 countries the travel ban in connection with the threat of a new coronavirus variant initially found in the United Kingdom, at least three government officials said Tuesday.

“We expanded the ban to 20 countries. Hahaba po ang listhahan na ‘yan,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told reporters during an inspection on Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals.

Duque said the government will possibly add more countries that will report a COVID-19 case due to the new variant of the coronavirus.

In an advisory, the Department of Transportation said effective midnight of December 29, 2020 all passengers originating from the following countries will not be allowed to enter the Philippines:

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

The ban will last until January 15, 2021.

“Passengers already in transit or who had been in any of the flagged countries within 14 days from entry into the Philippines and who arrive before December 30, 2020, will be allowed entry but they shall be subjected to strict quarantine and testing protocols (mandatory 14-day quarantine in OWWA and DOT accredited facilities) despite getting a negative RT-PCR result,” the DOTr said.

In a virtual press briefing, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are exempted from the travel ban.

Office of Transport Security administrator Raul Del Rosario said his office received the guidelines on the travel ban from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Monday night.

“Mayroong mga 20 bansa na maaaring mayroon nang infection ng new variant kaya itong mga pasaherong galing sa mga 20 bansa na ito ay binabantayan din natin,” Del Rosario said at a Laging Handa briefing.

“Ang naging kautusan ng IATF ay kung pupuwede, magkakaroon tayo ng ban na epektibo sa 30 December. Ang mga pinaparating natin ngayon ay ‘yung mga in transit na, in flight na,” he added.

Del Rosario said the 14-day quarantine for travelers who are already in transit when the is mandatory even if the traveler tests negative on RT-PCR test.

“Kapag hindi nagkaroon ng symptoms saka pa lang sila puwedeng makaalis [sa quarantine facility],” Del Rosario said.   (MNS)

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