Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
The Philippines will ban international arrivals from Oman and the United Arab Emirates starting from Saturday amid concerns over the Indian coronavirus variant, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Friday.
"All travellers coming from Oman and the UAE or those with travel history to these two countries within the last 14 days preceding arrival shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines beginning 12.01 am of May 15, 2021, until 11.59 of May 31," Roque said in a statement.
But passengers already in transit from these two countries and all those who have been to these countries "within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines" who arrive before Saturday, will be allowed entry, Xinhua news agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.
He added that these travellers "shall be required to undergo stricter quarantine and testing protocols."
Meanwhile, Roque said the Philippines has decided to retain the travel ban on India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for another two weeks until May 31.
The Philippines has detected the B.1.617 variants first found in India in two seafarers that arrived from Oman and the UAE last month.
There are four coronavirus variants of concern in the Philippines.
The WHO classified the B.1.617 as "a variant of concern at a global level", citing "some available information to suggest increased transmissibility".
The Philippines has so far reported 1,124,724 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 18,821 deaths.
The Indian B.1.617 variant has been found in eight nations in the Americas, including Canada and the United States, said Jairo Mendez, an infectious diseases expert with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences," Mendez said.
"The only worry is that they spread faster."
Among the infected were travellers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe, while in the Caribbean, the variant was found in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.
Separately, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that his country is "anxious" about the coronavirus variant detected in India and the government is "ruling nothing out" to tackle its spread.
"We want to make sure that we take all the prudential, all the cautious steps now that we could take," Xinhua news agency quoted Johnson as saying to Sky News on Thursday.
"So there are meetings going on today to consider exactly what we need to do," he said.
The UAE travellers planning their summer getaways from Monday can choose from over 30 cities in 19 countries after Spain opens its doors for fully vaccinated visitors.
Travellers from the UAE, Oman, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia will have to spend 14 days in quarantine upon arrival.
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A total of $3,100,000.00 Filipino taxpayers’ money equivalent to Dhs11,387,230.00 or Php158,541,480.87 were used by the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai (PCGDXB) to assist 24,150 distressed Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates for the entire 2018.
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