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PH extends travel ban to 19 more countries with new COVID-19 strain

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Dec 29, 2020 6:08 pm Updated Dec 29, 2020 6:29 pm

Aside from the United Kingdom, Malacañang is banning the entry of travelers from 19 more countries infected with the new COVID-19 strain.

The memorandum approved by President Rodrigo Duterte and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea today, Dec. 29, states that "All foreign travelers coming from, or transiting through, the following countries or areas listed below or who have been to the same places mentioned below within 14 days preceding arrival in the Philippines" will be prohibited from entering the Philippines beginning 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 31, 2020, until Jan. 15, 2021.

The list consists of the following nations:

  1. Denmark
  2. Ireland
  3. Japan
  4. Australia
  5. Israel
  6. The Netherlands
  7. Hong Kong, SAR
  8. Switzerland
  9. France
  10. Germany
  11. Iceland
  12. Italy
  13. Lebanon
  14. Singapore
  15. Sweden
  16. South Korea
  17. South Africa
  18. Canada
  19. Spain

The President is likewise extending the travel ban imposed on travelers from the UK from Dec. 31, 2020, to Jan. 15, 2021.

Passengers and Filipino citizens in transit and set to land before Dec. 30, will still be allowed entry but must adhere to the mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless if they tested negative on their RT-PCR test.

Duterte initially announced the travel ban for passengers coming from the UK on Dec.22, following reports on the new virus strain, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as “70% more transmissible.” 

During his televised meeting on Dec. 26, the President said that the government is considering Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recommendation to impose a travel ban on Sabah in Mindanao. This is based on reports that the new strain has reportedly reached the island.

Duterte said officials of Jolo in the southern province of Sulu requested assistance in managing the situation.

However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III thinks it’s unnecessary, as there is no community transmission recorded in the country.

"Ikunsidera lamang ang travel ban, Mr President, kung nasa lebel na ng community transmission ang new variant sa naturang bansa," Duque said in the same meeting.

Duterte thought otherwise, as he said, ”We will assume that the new strain will arrive in the Philippines. Unless you close the country, papasok talaga iyan.”