PH adds 6 more countries to travel ban list due to threat of new COVID-19 variant

Marje Pelayo   •   January 7, 2021   •   192

MANILA, Philippines — The national government on Wednesday (January 6) announced six more countries with entry restrictions to the Philippines in addition to the 20 nations with imposed travel bans due to the threat of the new variant of coronavirus found in the United Kingdom.

The fresh list of countries with travel restrictions was upon the joint recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which now includes Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil.

In this regard, foreign passengers coming from or who have been to the said nations within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, shall be prohibited from entering the country effective January 8, 2021, 12:01AM, Manila time, until January 15, 2021.

Meanwhile, effective immediately, all foreign passengers and Filipinos citizens coming from, or who have been to the said countries or jurisdictions within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, arriving before January 8, 2021, 12:01AM, Manila time, shall be allowed to enter the Philippines.  

However, they shall be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, even if they obtain a negative RT-PCR test result.

Filipino and foreign passengers merely transiting through the said countries shall be covered by the rules as provided in the Memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated December 31, 2020.

Meanwhile, the Office of the President provided the following rules on incoming unaccompanied minor Filipino passengers.

Overall, travel ban is in effect against the following 26 countries and territories to the Philippines:

  1. Australia 
  2. Brazil
  3. Canada
  4. Denmark
  5. Finland
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. Hong Kong SAR
  9. Iceland
  10. India
  11. Ireland
  12. Israel
  13. Italy
  14. Japan
  15. Jordan
  16. Lebanon
  17. Norway
  18. Singapore
  19. South Africa
  20. South Korea
  21. Spain
  22. Sweden
  23. Switzerland
  24. The Netherlands
  25. United Kingdom
  26. United States 

Gov’t extends travel restrictions on 32 countries until January 31

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The national government has extended the travel restrictions on 32 countries until January 31 amid threat of the new COVID-19 variant.

The Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the recommendation to extend the travel restriction, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Inaprubahan po ng inyong IATF ang rekomendasyon na ma-extend hanggang Janaury 31, 2021 ang entry travel restrictions at mga patakaran sa mga byaherong galing o transiting sa mga sumusunod na bansa kung saan meron na pong bagong strain ng COVID-19 (The IATF approved the recommendation to extend the entry travel restrictions until January 31, 2021, including the implementation of protocols for travelers transiting in areas with confirmed new strain of COVID-19),” Roque said.

Countries with travel restrictions until January 31:

  • The United Kingdom
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • The People’s Republic of China, including Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • United States of America
  • Portugal
  • India
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Jordan
  • Brazil
  • Austria
  • Pakistan
  • Jamaica
  • Luxembourg
  • Oman

Roque added that the IATF directed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to implement health protocols and guidelines in airlines. Contact tracing and quarantine protocols will also be intensified.

Lahat ng matutukoy na close contacts ay kailangang sumailalim sa mahigpit na facility-based 14-day quarantine samantalang ang natirang contacts mula sa flight manifest ay papayuhan sumunod sa appropriate quarantine protocols (All in close contact need to undergo in a facility-based 14-day quarantine while the remaining contacts from the flight manifest need to follow appropriate quarantine protocols),” the Palace official said.

Local government units are advised to boost the maintenance of their quarantine facilities as well as the use of Staysafe.PH system for better contact tracing.

The IATF also approved the continuous genomic biosurveillance activities of the Department of Health (DOH), UP-Philippine Genome Center, and the UP-National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is not yet included in the list of countries covered by the travel restrictions. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

QC gov’t won’t lock down area of Filipino with new COVID-19 variant

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The residential area of the Filipino who tested positive for the new variant of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will not be subjected to stricter quarantine rules, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said on Thursday.

Belmonte said there is no reason to put the barangay under lockdown as the patient was immediately placed on quarantine after he returned to the Philippines on January 7.

“It’s very unlikely that nakahawa siya sa kanyang mga kapitbahay etc… Wala pa ring batayan para maglockdown doon,” she said.

“Noong tiningnan ko datos ng Barangay Kamuning, nakita ko ang Kamuning is one of the barangays in Quezon City with the lowest number of COVID positive cases, and we have not observed any clustering or any community transmission,” she added.

The 29-year old male patient is the first case of the more transmissible COVID-19 variant recorded in the country. He lives in Kamuning with his family.

The Department of Health earlier reported that the patient tested negative for COVID-19 before his flight to Dubai in December. He also tested negative upon arrival in the Gulf state.

When he returned to the Philippines on January 7, he underwent a swab test and proceeded to a quarantine facility. His test result came out positive the following day.

His female companion, who was with him when they travelled to the Philippines, was also quarantined and tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival. She would undergo another swab test for precautionary measure.

The patient’s family will also be quarantined and will undergo tests. The health workers who assisted the patient will also be placed under isolation.

Belmonte, meanwhile, appealed to the public not to discriminate residents from Barangay Kamuning following reports that some workers residing in the area have been told to no longer report for work for fear of transmission.

“Gusto ko ring ipaalam sa ating mga employers, ‘yung ibat ibang opisina, nauunawaan ko na kayo ay nangangamba pero dito sa lungsod Quezon, meron tayong tinatawag na Anti-Discrimination Ordinance. This is something that we are ready to pursue kung patuloy na dinidiscriminate mga mamamayan ng Barangay Kamuning nang dahil sa kasong ito,” she said.

A barangay official, however, lamented the disclosure of the patient’s residential area as this may cause fear among residents and may also affect businesses.

“Yun po yung sa akin, sana hindi na lang po dinisclose… May mga businesses po tayo katulad ng palengke na naapektuhan na tapos meron po tayong mga kabarangay na hindi na pinapapasok sa kanilang work,” Armida Castel, chairperson of Barangay Kamuning said.

The city government said it is currently tracing 10 passengers on board the flight of the patient, who are all residents in the city. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Swab results of close contacts of Pinay with UK COVID-19 variant, to be out soon

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) said it has already tested the close contacts of the Filipina domestic helper who tested positive for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in Hong Kong.

The results of the genome sequencing on her samples will be out this week.

Meanwhile, the government was able to trace all of her contacts and they are all under quarantine and being monitored.

“Lahat po sila mino-monitor. Nakakuha na rin po tayo sa kanila ng (All of them are being monitored. We also collected from them) specimens for RT-PCR at the same time for the whole genome sequencing,” explained Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“So pinoproseso na po ngayon ang kanilang mga samples at maaaring bukas o sa Huwebes ay lumabas na po ang mga resulta nito (Their samples are now being processed and perhaps tomorrow or Thursday, the results will be out),” she added.

So far, the Philippines has yet to detect the new variant inside its borders. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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