MANILA, Dec 30 (Mabuhay) — The United States may be included in the list of countries where a temporary travel ban is enforced once it is confirmed that the new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has entered its borders, Philippine health officials said Wednesday.

“The policy is yes isasama natin pansamantala,” Duque said at an online press briefing when asked if the US will have to be included on the list.

“Remember, this is not a permanent ban. This is only temporary ban to give us time to assess our situation and to check whether this new variant has already arrived in the Philippines or not yet,” he added.

A report by Reuters on Wednesday said Colorado discovered its first case of the highly infectious coronavirus variant.

Duque said the possible inclusion of US is based on the policy that all countries that will report a COVID-19 case due to the new variant will be added to list of the counties with travel ban.

According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the Philippines will wait for the US to officially notify the World Health Organization regarding the reported case before it is added to the list.

“We will wait for the US to officially notify to the WHO IHR or official announce[ment] by their government regarding this new strain identified in Colorado before we include in our official list,” Vergeire said in a message to reporters.

On Tuesday, the government announced the expansion of the travel ban — initially only covering the United Kingdom where the variant was first discovered — to 19 more countries.

The travel ban on visitors from UK has been extended to cover those coming from 19 other countries namely:

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

Filipino citizens coming from the abovementioned countries/areas will also be allowed to enter the Philippines but will be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR test result.   (MNS)

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