Travel restrictions extended until January 31

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THE Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has further extended travel restrictions imposed on over 30 countries with B.1.1.7 coronavirus cases for another two weeks until January 31, 2021.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), however, is still not on the list. The first B.1.1.7 case in the Philippines had traveled to Dubai, UAE.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it will be President Rodrigo Duterte who will make the announcement if the recommendation to include the UAE is approved.

“The President will be the one to declare that, if ever. [The] list is for extension of restrictions and not for new,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Under the IATF Resolution no. 24 dated January 14, 2021, the countries covered by the travel restrictions are United Kingdom, United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Austria, China, Luxembourg, Oman, Pakistan and Jamaica.

Foreign travelers from these countries are prohibited from entering the Philippines while Filipino travelers will be strictly required to undergo testing and facility-based quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Swab specimens found positive for Sars-CoV-2 will be subjected to whole genome sequencing by the Philippine Genome Center to detect the B.1.1.7 variant.

The IATF also approved the continuation of weekly genomic biosurveillance activities of the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Genome Center and the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health.

Covered are incoming passengers and local cases, prioritizing hospitalized patients, re-infected patients, and those in clusters.

The IATF said contact tracing efforts will be strengthened by expanding to third generation contacts for known new variant cases while remaining contacts from the flight manifest shall be advised of the appropriate quarantine protocols.

The task force urged local government units to strengthen maintenance of their quarantine facilities in order to readily accept cases.

The IATF also ordered small working groups led by the DOH to resolve issues on funding, availability and use of quarantine facilities, and eventual handling over LGUs of arriving overseas Filipinos.

The government first suspended all inbound flights from the UK, where the B.1.1.7 variant was first detected, from December 24 to 31, 2020. The UK includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The restriction was extended for two weeks to January 15 and expanded to include other countries with known cases of the new variant. (SunStar Philippines)


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