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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Travel ban extended until January 31

Philippines extends travel ban until January 31st

MANILA – the Philippine government has decided to extend the travel ban on countries with confirmed cases of B.1.1.7SARS-CoV-2 variant, or the United Kingdom (UK) variant, until January 31st.

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the decision was to curb the spread of the new variant in the country. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infections Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the recommendation to extend the temporary restrictions.

“Travel restrictions in more than 30 countries extended until January 31,2021,” said Secretary Roque.

Travelers from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, China, Hing Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, the United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Austria, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxemburg, and Oman are prohibited from going to the Philippines.

Reports revealed that the UK variant is nearly 70 percent more transmissible than the original COVID-19. There is no evidence yet that it is more fatal than the previous variant.

The decision was founded on the detection of a 29-year-old Filipino male who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last January 7.

However, Secretary Roque said there has been no decision yet to ban the entry of foreign travelers from the UAE.

He was quoted saying President Duterte will be the one to declare such decision if ever.

The IATF-EID was reported to have directed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to strictly enforce government issuances against airlines that allow the boarding of passengers who are prohibited from entering the Philippines, according to the travel restrictions from the Office of the President and the IATF.

The travel ban was supposed to end today, Friday, January 15. Initially, Filipinos from areas covered by the travel restrictions were initially permitted to return home, on condition they undergo an “absolute” facility-based 14-day quarantine, despite a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result.

However, the IATF-EID Resolution approved and issued yesterday declares the temporary travel ban is applicable to “all travelers coming from or transiting” through the banned countries.

Secretary Roque said exemptions to entry restrictions may be issued by the IAFT-EID technical working group together with concerned government agencies.

“The IATF, in coordination with other agencies, may issue implementing guidelines on exemptions to these entry restrictions,” Secretary Roque concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

File photo of travelers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal III. (Melo M. Acuna)

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