The Philippines has imposed a ban on travelers from 20 countries including Australia and will not be allowed entry from 30 December. The ban would remain in place until 15 January.
In a memorandum to Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, it confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the imposition of a travel ban on countries that have registered cases of a new COVID-19 variant.
The new coronavirus strain, which experts fear to be more contagious than the current one may have originated in the United Kingdom but has since spread to other European countries as well as Canada, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
Per the memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, passengers from the following countries will not be allowed to enter the Philippines:
- United Kingdom
- Hong Kong, (SAR)
- South Korea
- South Africa
The memorandum said that all foreign travellers coming from, or already in transit and arrive before 1:00 a.m. on 30 December will be allowed to enter the country.
Filipino citizens coming from the above-listed countries or jurisdictions or who have been to the same within 14 days immediately following arrival in the Philippines will be allowed entry. However, they will be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period even if they tested a negative RT-PCR result.
According to the Department of Health, it was also monitoring other countries that have reported their own local strains of COVID-19. Restrictions may also apply to those countries that report the presence of the new variant of SARS-Cov-2.
Local travel operators not happy
Philippine Tours managing director Virginia Kalong was disappointed over said advisory.
“It’s very disappointing to be included in the ban when there are just a handful of active COVID-19 cases currently in Australia,” the Melbourne-based travel agent said.
“We barely have three or four clients travelling to Manila and even them will no longer be able to go back to the Philippines and this is very frustrating,” Kalong said.
There’s currently a ban on overseas travel from Australia. No one is allowed to leave Australia unless they are granted an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs.
Overseas Filipinos from countries listed above must contact their nearest Philippine Embassy or consular offices to obtain specific advice.
UK and South African strains enter Australia
Meanwhile, Australia has recorded its first case of a new South African strain of coronavirus in a returned traveller in Queensland.
The new South African strain is considered a “more contagious” variant of coronavirus – the first time the new strain has been identified in Australia.
Health authorities said genome testing confirmed the woman was carrying the new variant, after having tested positive for COVID-19 while she was in hotel quarantine in Brisbane.
Another highly infectious coronavirus strain, first detected in the UK was identified and has been detected in a returned traveller to South Australia. This particular strain is believed to be up to 70 per cent more contagious.
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