THE Philippine government has further tightened the country’s border restrictions by expanding the currently implemented travel ban to Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid threats imposed by the double mutant variant first detected in India.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the travel ban would be imposed on all passengers coming from Oman and UAE as a precaution against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) until the end of the month.
“All travelers coming from Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or those with travel history to these two countries within the last fourteen (14) days preceding arrival shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines beginning 0001H of May 15, 2021 until 2359H of May 31, 2021, upon the recommendation of the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Roque said in a statement.
Roque said passengers in transit as well as those who have been to these countries arriving before May 15 would not be subject to travel restrictions.
These travelers, however must, undergo stricter quarantine and testing protocols upon arrival in the country, including the observation of a 14-day facility-based quarantine period upon arrival even if they get negative results from Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction test, he added.
Meanwhile, Roque said the government has also extended the travel restrictions on India and four nearby countries until the end of the month.
“All existing travel restrictions of passengers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are extended until 2359H of May 31, 2021,” Roque said.
“The Department of Transportation should ensure that airlines are directed not to allow the boarding of passengers who are prohibited from entering the country pursuant to travel restrictions imposed by the Office of the President and IATF resolutions except if they are part of the repatriation efforts of the national government,” he added.
The latest travel rules have been issued after the Philippines reported the detection of the B.1.617 coronavirus variant first discovered in India, following its classification as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.
The Department of Health (DoH) said that the India variant was detected from two overseas Filipino workers with no travel to India. They are now asymptomatic after recovering from Covid-19.
Also on Tuesday, the DoH disclosed that hundreds of additional coronavirus variant cases were detected by the Philippine Genome Center and the University of the Philippines’ National Institutes of Health.
Genome sequencing of 744 samples has yielded an additional 380 more B.1.351 (South Africa) variant cases, 289 B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) variant cases, and nine new cases of the P.3 variant first detected in the Philippines.
These figures bring the totals to 1,075 B.1.351 variant cases; 948 B.1.1.7 cases; 157 P.3 cases; and two cases of the P.1 variant first detected in Brazil.
Health authorities on Thursday recorded 6,385 new Covid-19 cases, pushing the country’s total tally to 1,124724.