Philippines bans entry of travellers from Sri Lanka

Philippines has banned the entry of travellers from Sri Lanka to avert the spread of the double mutant variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) into the country, the Manila Times reported.

According to the Manila Times, travellers from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have also been banned.

In a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the expanded travel ban to prevent the entry of a new Covid-19 variant first reported in India.

“All passengers coming from or who have been to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines shall be prohibited from entering the country effective 0001H of 07 May 2021 Manila time until 2359H 14 May 2021,” Medialdea said in his memorandum.

Medialdea said all passengers who have been to Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before May 7, shall not be prohibited from entering the country.

But he said they “shall be required to undergo an absolute facility-based fourteen-day quarantine period notwithstanding a negative Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) result.”

Filipinos and foreign passengers merely transiting through India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh “shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to such country, provided that they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into these countries by their immigration authorities,” Medialdea said.

“Upon arrival in the Philippines, passengers covered by the immediately preceding paragraph need not complete a full 14-day facility-based quarantine, but shall comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols of the national government,” he added.

Medialdea also said all specimens from travellers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh that turn positive upon testing in the Philippines “shall undergo Whole Genome Sequencing.”

“All close contacts must undergo facility-based quarantine for fourteen days, and contact tracing shall expand up to the third generation contacts,” Medialdea said.

“Existing prohibitions and procedures on entry generally applicable to arriving passengers, insofar as consistent with the foregoing, shall continue to be implemented,” he added.

The double-mutant variant — formally named B.1.617 — has so far reached six countries but has yet to be detected in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

The coronavirus variant was first detected in October 2020.

To date, the variants detected in the Philippines were those that were first discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.

The Philippines last week passed the one million mark in Covid-19 cases recorded, with the country’s National Capital Region and nearby provinces being once again subjected to strict quarantine lockdowns.

The country’s total new coronavirus cases of 1,067,892 includes 66,060 active cases, 984,210 recovered patients, and 17,622 deaths.

To date, the variants detected in the Philippines were those that were first discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.

The Philippines last week passed the one million mark in Covid-19 cases recorded, with the country’s National Capital Region and nearby provinces being once again subjected to strict quarantine lockdowns.

The country’s total new coronavirus cases of 1,067,892 includes 66,060 active cases, 984,210 recovered patients, and 17,622 deaths. (Colombo Gazette)

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