PH extends UK travel ban to Jan. 14, 2021

Marje Pelayo   •   December 28, 2020   •   271

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) as directed by President Rodrigo Duterte, has extended the travel ban for flights coming from the United Kingdom (UK) for two more weeks after December 31.

“Consequently, all passengers who have been to the UK in the last 14 days prior to arrival in the country are still restricted entry until January 14, 2021,” according to Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente.

The ban follows reports of a new strain of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the UK, which is reportedly 70% more infectious.

READ: PH announces entry ban of all UK flights starting Dec. 24

Currently, the BI is implementing a strict 100% passport inspection to determine the travel history of arriving passengers in the last 14 days.

Meanwhile, the BI vowed to expedite the Implementing Rules and Regulations for Executive Order No. 122 or the Strengthening Border Control Through the Adoption and Implementation of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS).

The APIS is an electronic communications system that collects biographic data on passenger or crew, which is transmitted to the BI prior to arrival, and allows for early vetting on the admissibility of an arriving alien.

“The API system is very timely, as apart from protecting the country from aliens with derogatory records, it would allow us to deny the boarding of passengers who have a travel history to the UK in the last 14 days, instead of having to detect them upon arrival in the country,” Morente said.

POLO-OWWA London warns Filipinos against recruitment scam

Marje Pelayo   •   January 4, 2021

LONDON, United Kingdom — The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) – Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in London warned Filipino jobseekers against fake entities posing as recruitment agencies supposedly authorized by the agency.

In a statement, POLO – London said they have received a report against a certain company named Cornerstone Employment Agency (CEA) Ltd, that has been offering partnerships with Philippine recruitment agencies to recruit Filipino workers for jobs in the UK.  

The dubious agency has been using an email address that resembles the official email address of POLO, and presenting documents with fake verification stamps and forged signatures to make them appear legitimate.

POLO clarified that it “has never emailed any document to CEA nor has it sent any document to that agency.”

Applicants who were recruited by CEA also reported that they were asked to pay a fee of $800 USD for the processing of a work visa.

POLO stressed that the activity is definitely a recruitment scam and advised the public to stop any dealings with the said agency. MNP / Raymund David

Duterte OKs ban on travelers from UK, 19 other countries over new COVID-19 variant – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommended expansion of the country’s entry ban on travelers coming from the United Kingdom to cover 19 other countries amid reported cases of a new variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in these areas, Malacañang said Tuesday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said travelers from the UK are temporarily barred from entering the Philippines until January 15, 2021.

The travel ban has been extended to cover those coming from 19 other countries:

  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • Hong Kong, SAR
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • South Korea
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • Spain

Roque said the expanded travel restriction takes effect on December 30, 2020, 12:01 AM until January 15, 2021, covering all foreign travelers coming from, or transiting through, the said countries.

Passengers who are already in transit and are expected to arrive before December 30, 2020, 12:01 AM, from the 19 countries/areas listed above shall not be prohibited from entering the country but will be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR test result

“The Office of the President, upon the joint recommendation of the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs, may impose restrictions to travelers coming from other countries that report the presence of the new variant of COVID-19,” Roque said.

Outbound travel to countries with reported new variants shall be subject to exiting protocols of the Philippines and the entry protocols of the respective countries, he added.

Singapore confirms first case of new COVID-19 strain

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2020

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed on Wednesday (December 23) that one case of a new potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) virus — the B117 strain— circulating in the United Kingdom, has been detected in the country.

The patient is a 17-year-old Singaporean student who returned from the UK.

She had been studying in the UK from August 2020 and returned to Singapore on December 6. She served the Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility upon arrival. 

She developed a fever the next day, and was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on December 8.

All her close contacts had been placed on quarantine, and had tested negative for COVID-19 infection at the end of their quarantine period. 

“As she had been isolated upon arrival in Singapore, we were able to ringfence this case so that there was no further transmission arising from her,” the Ministry assured.

Following the recent report, the National Public Health Laboratory is performing viral genomic sequencing for confirmed COVID-19 cases who had arrived from Europe recently. 

From arrivals of passengers from Europe between November 17 and December 17, a total of 31 were confirmed to have COVID-19 infection in December which included one who has been found carrying the B117 strain.

The MOH said another 11 cases are pending confirmatory results who are preliminarily positive for the B117 strain. 

The agency assured that there is no evidence that the B117 strain is circulating in the community and all the cases had been placed on 14-day ‘stay at home notice’ (SHN) at dedicated facilities or isolated upon arrival in Singapore, and their close contacts had been quarantined earlier.

As a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of spread to Singapore, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced effective immediately, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to the UK within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or transit through Singapore. 

Meanwhile, returning Singaporeans and permanent residents will be required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival in Singapore, at the start of their 14-day SHN.

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