The Philippines is temporarily banning the entry of foreign travelers from 20 countries where a new strain of the coronavirus has been reported, the government said on Tuesday.
The ban initially covered only visitors from Britain, but it was expanded to 19 other countries and will be in effect until Jan. 15, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
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The other countries are South Africa, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Israel, Hong Kong, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Lebanon, Japan, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Australia, France, Iceland and South Korea.
Passengers who are already on transit will be allowed to enter the Philippines, but they will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine in government-accredited facilities in spite a negative RT-PCR test result, Roque said.
During the temporary ban, Filipinos coming from the identified countries are allowed to come home but will also have to undergo the 14-day facility-based quarantine.
The government “may impose restrictions to travelers coming from other countries that report the presence of the new variant of COVID-19,” Roque said, adding that outbound travel was allowed, subject to entry protocols of the destination.
President Rodrigo Duterte has kept the capital region of Metro Manila and eight areas in the Philippines under a less-stringent lockdown protocol until Jan. 31.
Malls, restaurants, and other commercial establishments are allowed to operate, but not at 100 per cent capacity.
Public transport is operating with downsized capacity, and inter-island travel is allowed, but with some restrictions.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health reported 886 new infections, bringing the Philippines’ total caseload to 471,526. The death toll was up by 32, to 9,162, it added.