5 more countries lift inbound travel restrictions on Filipinos amid COVID-19 pandemic — DFA

Marje Pelayo   •   August 24, 2020   •   774

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday (August 23) announced five more countries that have lifted inbound restrictions on Filipino travelers.

These countries include Brazil, Kiribati, the United Kingdom, Benin, and Chad. 

The lifting of restrictions is subject to medical protocols such as proof of purchase of health insurance, institutional or home quarantine, presentation of negative COVID-19 test results, among others. 

However, the DFA added that even though Canada, Armenia, Slovak Republic, and Kuwait still do not allow general entry, these countries have imposed stricter medical protocols for those who are exempted from the entry restrictions.

Chad, meanwhile, has opened its outbound borders, subject to flight availability and other special arrangements. 

Previous information on travel restrictions for other countries and regions remain the same. 

In view of these updates, the DFA reminds the public that information contained in the infographics is subject to change without prior and sufficient public notice. 

Therefore, it is always best to check ahead of travel dates with airlines, as well as with relevant embassies or consulates before booking a ticket and before departure.

LTO sets up guidelines for registration of e-scooters

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed governments to impose transport restrictions to curb virus transmission among commuters.

As an alternative to common modes of transportation, the public resorted to old-school bicycles and its modern counterparts — the e-scooter and e-bikes.

Such vehicles have been helpful to some especially healthcare professionals and other essential workers who are spared from facing the hassle of commuting to work on mass transportation and the risk of infection that it entails.

“Iyong convenience ng e-scooter? Never na ako nag-commute ulit ever since October 2019,” said Syd Henrie Arriesgado, an occupational therapist who goes to work on his e-scooter.

“Pupunta ako sa work, nag-i e-scooter na lang ako,” he added.

Syd is one of the many individuals who now own such a vehicle but are not covered by any transport regulation at the moment. 

This is why, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is now drafting a guideline that will regulate the use of e-scooters by updating the provisions of Republic Act 4136 or the Act to Compile the Laws Relative to Land Transportation and Traffic Rules.

Under the existing law, any vehicle that uses oil fuel or electricity must be registered and the owner should possess a valid license.

The LTO also stressed that the use of e-scooters must be governed by a certain law since it is small in size and requires balancing which is prone to accidents.

The agency is awaiting the approval of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the proposed guidelines.

“Una, kailangan may lisensya o rehistrado. Pangalawa, kung saan pwedeng gamitin, anong klaseng lansangan pwedeng gamitin. Pangatlo ano ang kailangang protective gear na suot nila para naman kung hindi ma-prevent ay mabawasan ang injuries,” explained LTO Chief and DOTr Undersecretary Edgar Galvante.

But an e-scooter advocate group, “Electric Kick Scooter” questioned the timing of the guideline’s release.

“I can’t really take it against LTO. Mandato ng Constitution but the thing is it’s really bad timing during this pandemic season. Ang mga frontliners ito ang ginagamit na mode of transportation,” argued Tim Vargas, the group’s chairman.

Galvante on the other hand, said, “Hindi dito iniisip ang ill-timing. Kung ang kino-consider siguro ay safety, wala ritong tamang timing.”

The LTO, however, cannot tell yet as to when the guidelines will be released, but assured the public of prompt issuance once DOTr greenlights the proposal. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

DOH records 3,311 additional confirmed COVID-19 patients

Maris Federez   •   September 21, 2020

Specimen collection for coronavirus testing

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has issued a bulletin on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) showing that the total number of COVID-19 cases was at 286,743, as of 4PM on Sunday, September 20, 2020.

This, after health authorities reported that 3,311 newly-confirmed cases added to the list of COVID-19 patients.

The DOH also announced that there are 20,021 recoveries which comprised of 625 from routine reports and 19,396 time-based recoveries. This brings the total number of recoveries to 229,865.

The statement also reported that of the 3,311 reported cases, 2,774 (84%) occurred within the recent 14 days (September 7 – September 20, 2020). The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were NCR with 1,182 (43%), Region 4A with 555 (20%) and Region 6 with 299 (11%) cases.

The department has also recorded 55 fatalities due to COVID-19. This is comprised of 33 in September (60%), 17 in August (31%) and 5 in July (9%).

The report also showed 29 duplicates that were removed from the total case count. Of these, 14 recovered cases and 1 death have been removed. One case, on the other hand, was reactivated after further validation.

The report further showed that 28 cases that were previously tagged as recovered have been reclassified to deaths (25) and active cases (3) after final validation. — /mbmf

Australia extends international travel ban to December 17

Marje Pelayo   •   September 8, 2020

The Australian government has extended the implementation of international border restrictions for at least three more months until December 17. 

This was the decision of the country’s Health Protection Principal Committee given the prevailing global health risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

Australia closed its borders in March to prevent the entry of COVID-19 in the country. 

In July, the Australian government allowed the return of around 4,000 of its citizens and permanent residents. 

To date, only those covered by travel exemptions are allowed to leave or enter the country. 

Travel exemptions can be processed online through the Australian Border Force but only qualified individuals will be granted.

These included those working in essential industries and businesses, those needing immediate medical treatment outside Australia, unavoidable personal circumstance, compassionate or humanitarian grounds or anything related to national security. 

Meanwhile, temporary visa holders need not acquire travel exemptions from authorities as they may leave anytime to be able to return to their home country.

They have to make sure, however, that their country of destination will accept them once they leave Australia.

For list of exempted individuals, travelers may check on the official webpage of the Australian Department of Home Affairs. MNP (with inputs from Danny Delleva)

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