By Prince Golez
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has prohibited all arriving foreign nationals from countries that have registered cases of a new coronavirus (Covid-19) variant to enter the Philippines.
The government earlier banned travelers from 20 countries until January 15 due to a new Covid-19 strain spreading in the United Kingdom. These include the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Netherlands, Canada, France, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Lebanon, Sweden, and South Korea.
“The IATF resolved that all foreign travelers coming from countries/jurisdictions covered by travel restrictions for the new variant of Covid-19, or with a travel history in those areas within the last 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines shall not be permitted entry to the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement Wednesday.
The following, however, are exempted from the ban:
-local/accredited foreign diplomats and international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations, who shall be exempted from quarantine protocols as long as they will undergo RT-PCR test upon arrival in the arrival, execute an undertaking, and observe strict 14-day quarantine
-foreign dignitaries who shall observe existing testing and quarantine protocols upon arrival and those for medical and emergency cases, including their medical escorts
Roque said that Filipino citizens coming from countries where travel restrictions are in place, or who have been to the said areas within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines will be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, except for highly exceptional and/or medical reasons, which the Department of Health (DOH) would determine.
Any individual arriving in the Philippines who may have received vaccination for Covid-19 in other countries must still observe the mandatory testing and quarantine protocols, he added.
Meanwhile, Roque said the IATF directed the DOH, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson and the Presidential Communications Operations Office to further strengthen their enforcement, monitoring and communication efforts or impose additional specific measures to mitigate the possible COVID cases surge after the holidays.