Airport personnel monitor a thermal scanner as passengers arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Philippines. File/Reuters
The Philippines will ban travellers from 19 countries and territories until mid-January as a measure to keep out a new variant of the coronavirus, its transport ministry said on Tuesday.
The regulation will be in effect from midnight of Dec.29 to Jan.15 and covers Filipinos and foreigners arriving from the “flagged countries,” the transport ministry told reporters in a group text message.
The Philippines previously imposed and later extended a flight ban from Britain until mid-January as the more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus was first detected in England.
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The new variant, which British scientists have called “VUI - 202012/01,” has renewed fears about the virus that has killed over 1.7 million people worldwide.
The flagged countries include France, Australia, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Singapore and Japan.
With more than 470,000 infections and 9,124 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.
The new variant has not been detected in the Philippines.
Philippine health officials said the travel ban could be expanded to include more countries should those report the presence of the new COVID-19 variant.
The Philippines government on Wednesday extended for another two weeks until July 31 the travel ban imposed on seven countries to curb spread of COVID 19 Delta variant.
The countries imposed with total travel ban include Botswana, Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.
The world is scrambling to contain the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, despite travel bans, new lockdowns and a tightening quarantine measures in dozens of countries, amid concerns it could not only be more transmissible, but deadlier.
The Philippines on Tuesday included Taiwan in its expanded list of countries and territories covered by its travel ban arising from its determined move to help prevent the spread of the dreaded coronavirus (nCOV) that has already resulted in rising fears and alarm worldwide.
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