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Philippines temporarily bans flights from UK over new COVID-19 strain

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Dec 22, 2020 10:43 pm

Travelers from the United Kingdom are banned from entering the Philippines starting 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 24 until Dec. 31.

The suspension was announced by Malacañang on Wednesday, Dec. 22, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of the recommendation of the Inter-agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) stated in Resolution No. 90.

The travel ban will cover “all passengers who have been in the United Kingdom within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, including those merely transiting.”

People who are already on a flight to the Philippines before the travel ban are still permitted to enter the country but required to quarantine for 14 days at the Athlete’s Village in New Clark City regardless of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test results.

Outbound travel to the UK is meanwhile subject to the Philippines’ existing travel protocols.

The travel restriction is enacted in response to the new COVID-19 strain in the UK reported over the weekend. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it could be “up to 70% more transmissible.” 

The new variant is responsible for the doubling of the infections in London over the past week. About 60% of them were brought about by the new strain, according to England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

It prompted many countries, including Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Ireland, to implement more stringent protocols for trips to and from the UK. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Health clarified that there is no new COVID-19 strain in the Philippines.

"Sa ngayon wala pa silang nakikitang bagong strain na meron tayo dito sa bansa based on their monitoring. But of course we will be furthering this monitoring," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing on Dec. 21.

As of today, the UK has reported 2.1 million COVID-19 cases and 68,307 deaths, while the Philippines has 462,815 cases and 9,021 deaths. Worldwide, cases total 78.3 million with deaths at 1.7 million.