Foreigners and non-OFWs barred temporarily from traveling to the Philippines
MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, the concurrent Chairperson of the National Task Force Against COLVID-19 said the travel to the Philippines of foreigners and returning overseas Filipino who are non-overseas Filipino workers will be suspended effective midnight of March 20 until April 19,2021.
This step was made due to the recorded 5,404 new COVID-19 cases, the highest the country achieved in the last six months.
In his memorandum to all concerned member agencies of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, Secretary Lorenzana said the significant increase in cases since the beginning of the year “is likely attributed to increased transmission” because of the failure to observe minimum public health standards particularly during gatherings, increased mobility of people, delays in detection and isolation of infected persons and the entry oif SARS-CoV-2 variants.
The factors mentioned have the potential for increase in transmission of the virus.
Citing a Department of Health (DOH) report dated March 13, the sustained bio-surveillance efforts of University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), the UP – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) and the DOH, confirmed additional cases of variants of concern. Mr. Lorenzana said 59 new cases positive for the B.I.1.7 variant of UK variant, 32 additional cases positive for the B.1.351 variant (South Africa variant) and one case positive for the P.1 variant or Brazilian variant.
The Memorandum revealed among the additional 59 B.1.1.7 variant cases, 30 2343 local cases, 18 are Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and 11 are currently being verified whether local or imported.
“This brought eh total number of B.1.1.7 cases in the Philippines to 177,” he said. Meanwhile, among the 32 B.1.351 variant cases, 21 are local cases, 1 is an ROF and ten are still being verified as to their location, which has brought the total number of B.1.351 cases in the country to 90.
The one case found with the P.1. variant is a Returning Overseas Filipino from Brazil.
Included in the same memorandum was the limitation of inbound international passengers or arrivals to 1,500 a day and to temporarily suspend the entry of Foreign Nationals and Returning Overseas Filipinos who are non-OFWs.
Exempted from the temporary ban are holders of 9© visas, medical repatriation and their escorts when duly endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs or Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA),
Distressed returning overseas Filipinos endorsed by the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs are also exempted from the ban.
Also exempted from the ban are emergency, humanitarian, and other analogous cases approved by the National Task Force COVID-19 which Secretary Lorenzana heads. (Melo M. Acuña)
Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)