The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not included in the Philippines’ travel ban list due to the COVID-19 variant first reported in the United Kingdom.
On Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has only extended until end of the month the government’s travel restrictions on over 30 countries and territories.
“The IATF approved the recommendation to extend until January 31, 2021 the entry travel restrictions and the rules applicable to all travelers coming from or transiting,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
The announcement came a day after the Department of Health (DOH) said they will be recommending travellers from the UAE to be part of the list following the discovery of the Philippines ‘patient zero’ of the UK COVID-19 variant.
The patient is a 29-year-old male traveller, who arrived from Dubai last January 7 from Dubai.
Meanwhile, the DOH announced that it is now subjecting all travellers who test positive for COVID-19 to genome sequencing, in a bid to detect if they have the new and more transmissible variant of the disease.
The ban applies to foreign travellers from the following countries:
The People’s Republic of China, including Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
United States of America
With the extension of the travel ban on these countries, the government has also directed the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to strictly implement issuances against airlines that allow the boarding of passengers who are prohibited from entering the Philippines.
“The IATF, in coordination with other agencies, may issue implementing guidelines on the exemptions to these entry restrictions,” Roque added.
Malacanang also said that there will be intensified contact tracing protocols by expanding to third-generation contacts for known new variant cases.
All identified close contacts are required to undergo a strict facility-based 14-day quarantine while remaining contacts from the flight manifest shall be advised of the appropriate quarantine protocols.
Also, those who are found to be positive, apart from the prescribed testing and quarantine protocols, shall undergo whole genome sequencing to be conducted by the Department of Health (DOH), University of the Philippines Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the UP National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH).
Roque said that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the DOTr One-Stop Shop shall ensure that appropriate protocols are implemented for all those found to be positive of the new COVID-19 variant.