THE National Task Force (NTF) against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) clarified on Sunday, November 28, 2021, that the statement made by one of its officials earlier on the ban on flights from Hong Kong was not yet final.

“We await the formal announcement from the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) following a final recommendation from the Technical Working Group on Covid-19 Variants and other agencies. The Government through favorable recommendations of the Department of Health (DOH) will work to ensure timely adoption of preemptive measures to prevent or delay the entry of new variants which have the potential for undermining public health,” the NTF said in a statement.

“Until a formal announcement from the IATF is made, HK (Hong Kong) flights will still be allowed. We apologize for any inconvenience an earlier pronouncement may have caused,” it added.

In a television interview on Sunday morning, NTF Spokesperson Restituto Padilla said Hong Kong will join the seven countries -- South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique -- in which the Philippines imposed an international flight ban until December 15 due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The Omicron variant is a new and potentially more infectious strain of Covid-19 that was tagged by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern.

The variant was first detected in Botswana and then in South Africa.

The first case of the said strain in Hong Kong was a traveler from South Africa.