Philippines bars travelers from India beginning April 29
Travelers walk past a thermal camera upon arrival at the international airport in Manila on February 5, 2020.
AFP/Romeo Gacad

Philippines bars travelers from India beginning April 29

(Philstar.com) - April 27, 2021 - 9:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines on Tuesday issued a two-week ban on the entry of travelers from India starting April 29, as New Delhi struggles to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that now required international help.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the travel restriction will begin at 12:01 a.m. of Thursday until May 14. Those with travel history to India are also covered by the move.

Passengers set to arrive in Manila before the said date will be allowed entry. They will, however, be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine regardless of a negative COVID-19 test result.

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. backed calls to halt accepting travelers from India. The World Health Organization described the picture there as "beyond heartbreaking," with both hospitals and crematoriums already full.

"Restrictions as to travelers coming from other countries that report the new strain may be imposed by the Office of the President upon the joint recommendation of the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs," Roque said.

The Department of Transportation was also told to ensure that airlines will not allow passengers to board if they are covered by the ban. An exception, however, is if they are part of the government's repatriation efforts.

On Monday, the DOH said its experts are studying the B.1.617, or the COVID-19 variant said to be driving India's record-high infections.

It is said to contain two genetic mutations: E484Q and L452R. The E484K mutation may help the virus dodge some kinds of antibodies, while the L452R mutation is widespread in California, but not yet shown to be more contagious.

Philippine health authorities have detected more cases of other variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil which are considered as "variants of concern."

In a statement Tuesday night, the DOH said the B.1.617 remains a "variant of interest." The agency said it will continue to monitor developments on this, "to ensure immediate and proper response."

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