MANILA: The Philippines on Friday (Jan 15) extended entry restrictions on travellers from 32 locations to curb the spread of the COVID-19 variant known as B117, first detected in the UK.
The original measures, which were set to expire on Friday, will now be extended for another two weeks, until Jan 31.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) approved the recommendation to extend the travel restrictions, said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a press release.
The list of places includes the UK, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and the US.
The Philippines reported its first case of the UK COVID-19 variant on Wednesday, according to a press release by the Philippines’ Department of Health.
The case was a Filipino man who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on Jan 7. He was swabbed and quarantined in a hotel upon arrival. The UAE is currently not on the list of the 32 places.
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In December, the country banned travellers, including Filipinos, from 19 countries and territories until mid-January as a measure to keep out the new variant of the coronavirus.
The Philippines also announced on Friday that contact tracing protocols would be strengthened and expanded to “third-generation contacts” for known COVID-19 variant cases.
All identified close contacts of the cases will be quarantined for 14 days in special facilities and the remaining contacts from the flight list will be advised of the appropriate quarantine protocols.
Those who are found positive will undergo whole genome sequencing, apart from the prescribed testing and quarantine protocols, said Roque.
The IATF also approved continuing the weekly “genomic biosurveillance” among incoming passengers and local cases, with priority given to hospitalised patients, re-infected patients and those in clusters.
The Philippines has reported 4,904,605 cases and 9,739 deaths as of Thursday, according to the Department of Health.
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