IATF eases travel restriction for some foreigners
An international airline ground staff wearing protective gear works at the airport in Manila on Aug. 4, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

IATF eases travel restriction for some foreigners

(Philstar.com) - January 22, 2021 - 3:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s coronavirus task force has eased travel restrictions for some foreign nationals amid the threat of the new and more transmissible coronavirus variant.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday said the Inter-Agency Task Force amended its earlier resolution imposing a ban on countries were the new coronavirus variant has been detected.

The Philippines has temporarily shut its borders from 35 countries until the end of January to keep the new coronavirus variants out.

Roque said the IATF has lifted the ban for foreign nationals with valid visas, such as personnel of accredited international organizations, and spouse and minor children of Filipino citizens traveling with them.

“Those who arrived for medical and emergency cases, including their medical escorts, if any, are now subject to applicable testing and quarantine protocols as prescribed by the Department of Health,” Roque added.

The government has also announced that travelers coming from countries under the travel will undergo a COVID-19 swab test twice, upon their arrival and another on the fifth day since.

Immigration: Foreign spouse, children of Filipinos need visa

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, for his part, said: “Arriving foreign diplomats and personnel of accredited international organizations will be referred to the airport’s one stop shop for the usual testing and quarantine protocols.”

The BI chief, however, stressed that foreign spouse and minor children of Filipinos should be traveling with them and should first secure visa before coming to the country. Those without visas issued will be turned away, he added.

Morente also said that dual citizens or those holding a Philippine and foreign citizenship will be allowed to enter the country upon presentation of a valid Philippine passport or certificate of citizenship.

A certificate of citizenship may either be an identification certificate or a certificate of reacquisition/retention of Philippine Citizenship under Republic Act 9225, BI added.

The Philippines disclosed on January 13 that it detected the new coronavirus variant first traced to the United Kingdom in a Filipino who flew in from Dubai early in January.

Health authorities have started tracing those who have had contacts with the index case, and have confirmed 14 cases among them. Of these, eight are his fellow passengers of the flight to Manila while the other six are his close contacts.

The Department of Health, however, has yet to locate two passengers of the same flight and has enlisted the help of the National Bureau of Investigation in locating them.

Preliminary estimates find the B117 or the one first detected in the United Kingdom between 30% and 70% more contagious than other forms of the virus. But there is no evidence that the variant is more deadly than others.

Experts warned that an increase in the transmission of the new variant will lead to more people getting infected and sick, which can overwhelm the country's health system anew. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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