Friday, September 24, 2021

Travel ban expanded to Malaysia, Thailand

MANILA. A woman wearing a protective suit pushes a cart at the arrival area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in this photo taken on March 17, 2021. (File)

AS A measure to prevent further spread of coronavirus variants in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the expansion of travel restrictions to include travelers coming from Malaysia and Thailand beginning 12:01 a.m. of July 25, 2021 until 11:59 p.m. of July 31, 2021.

Those with travel history to Malaysia and Thailand within the last 14 days preceding arrival in the Philippines are also covered by the restrictions.

Passengers already in transit, and all those who have been to the two countries within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01a.m. of July 25, 2021, may still be allowed to enter the country but will be required to undergo a full 14-day facility quarantine even with a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result.

Filipinos on repatriation and special commercial flights are exempted, but they have to follow the prescribed testing and quarantine protocols.

Malaysia and Thailand join eight other countries covered by the restrictions until July 31, such as Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The new restrictions were approved after health authorities confirmed local transmission of the Delta variant, the most infectious form of Sars-CoV-2 which is causing steep increases in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and several other countries.

The Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, emerged in India and caused an acute shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supplies in that country.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said all incoming international travelers in all ports of entry must strictly comply with testing and quarantine protocols approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to prevent the further entry of variants of concern in the country.

The Bureau of Quarantine is tasked to identify the close contacts in the plane/vessel of the confirmed case and closely monitor them.

Infection prevention and control protocols must likewise be strictly followed in all quarantine and isolation facilities.

Also, local government units (LGUs) handover must include clear transportation arrangements and quarantine accommodation.

LGUs are also required to closely monitor those under quarantine and immediately conduct RT-PCR testing after detection of symptoms.

In addition, health assessment must be done for all arrivals at the end of isolation or quarantine period.

The IATF also approved the continuous and strengthened implementation of the prevent-detect-isolate-treat-reintegrate (PDITR) strategy.

This includes active case finding, intensified contact tracing, immediate quarantine/isolation which should preferably be in a facility, declaration of localized enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) down to the zone or barangay levels, stricter implementation and observance of mimimum public health standards, and fast-tracked deployment of Covid-19 vaccines.

Finally, the IATF allowed foreign spouses, parent/s, and/or children of Filipino citizens with valid 9(a) visas to enter the Philippines without the need for entry exemption document beginning August 1, 2021.

Health authorities have detected 47 cases of Delta variant, with three deaths and eight active cases.

Of the 47 cases, 23 are local cases and 24 are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs). (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)


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