Travel restrictions up vs COVID-19 variant; more countries added to 'Red List'

Travel restrictions up vs COVID-19 variant; more countries added to 'Red List'
A passenger sits alone at the NAIA Terminal 1 on May 3, 2020 after a suspension of international flights.
The STAR / Rudy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is tightening border controls and ramping up local COVID-19 response, a Palace official said Sunday as the government task force against COVID-19 expanded a Red List of countries covered by travel restrictions.

In a statement to media, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary,The Netherlands,Switzerland,Belgium and Italy are on the list as of Sunday, November 28. They join Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Passengers who have traveled through or from places on the Red List in the last 14 days will not be allowed into the country regardless of vaccine status, he said. He said Filipinos coming home from Red List areas on repatriation flights will be allowed into the country but will be subject to quarantine and testing.

The restrictions will be in force starting November 30, he also said. Arrivals from Red List countries before then "shall nevertheless be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the seventh day, with Day 1 being the date of arrival, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result."

Nograles said that travelers from all other areas not included in the Red List "shall comply with the testing and quarantine protocols for 'Yellow' list countries." 

Under Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution 149-A, fully-vaccinated travelers from Yellow List countries with a negative RT-PCR test taken with 72 hours before departure and have to go on facility-based quarantine until the release of negative results. They must also be swabbed on the third day from arrival and must self-monitor until the 14th day from arrival.

Those Without a negative RT-PCR test will need to go on facility-based quarantine and must get swabbed on the fifth day

"Upon the release of a negative RT-PCR test, they may be discharged from facility quarantine. After which, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine until the 10th day from the date of arrival," the IATF resolution reads.

For unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated travelers, the swab test is on the 7th day. They will also have to undergo home quarantine until the 14th day since arrival. 

"With Omicron designated as a variant of concern, the IATF likewise approved the recommendations to strengthen local COVID-19 response," Nograles also said. Omicron is a variant of COVID-19 first confirmed by South African health authorities.

That will include a heightened alert for clustering of cases as well as immediate contact tracing and isolation of cases detected.

The Bureau of Quarantine and the Department of the Interior and Local Government will also look for passengers who arrived from Red List areas within 14 days before November 29 to make sure they complete quarantine.



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