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By Prince Golez

The Philippines has banned the entry of all foreign nationals arriving from Austria due to a new variant of the coronavirus detected in South Africa.

In a statement late Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said passengers who have been to Austria within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines will not be allowed to enter the country starting January 10 until January 15.

Those coming from, or who have been to Austria within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, arriving before January 10 will be allowed to enter provided that they undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, even if they obtain a negative RT-PCR test result, according to Roque.

He added that Filipino citizens coming from, or who have been to Austria, within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, including those arriving after January 10, are permitted to enter.

But, they must also undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period despite the negative test.

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

The Palace official noted that the rules on incoming unaccompanied minor Filipino passengers as provided in the Memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated January 5, 2021, shall apply to such passengers coming from or who have been to Austria with the prohibition of entry taking effect on January 10.

Roque likewise said the Office of the President directed the Task Group on Returning Overseas Filipinos of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and all local government units (LGUs) to “make the necessary preparations for the implementation of strict quarantine and isolation in health facilities for those arriving, and for LGU-led monitoring for those quarantining at home, after January 15, 2021.”

As of Wednesday, the government has imposed a temporary travel ban on 26 countries.

These include Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, and Spain.

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