The Philippines has suspended the entry of foreigners and returning overseas Filipinos who are considered as non-overseas Filipino workers from March 20 until April 19 amid a spike in Covid-19 cases and the entry of new variants in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the temporary travel restriction is stipulated under National Task Force Against Covid-19 Memorandum Circular No. 5.
Exempted from the travel restriction are holders of 9(e) visas (foreign government officials including their family members and attendants) and medical repatriation and their escorts duly endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs–Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
Distressed returning overseas Filipinos duly endorsed by the DFA-OUMWA; and emergency, humanitarian, and other cases as approved by the NTF are also exempted.
Concerned agencies of the government were also directed to limit the number of inbound international passengers, or those arriving in the Philippines, to only 1,500 a day.
“We need to implement this decisive action to prevent the further spread of this virus and its new variants,” Roque said.
In a press briefing, NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the cap on the number of inbound passengers allowed entry per day will be increased once Covid-19 cases decrease.
“Considering that we have a continuous surge, this is our intervention to prevent the probability of having more or less 3,000 carriers of new variants,” Galvez said.
On March 13, the Department of Health confirmed a new Covid-19 variant called P.3 has been traced in the country.
The DOH also confirmed the country’s first case of the P.1 variant first discovered in Brazil from samples of an overseas Filipino workers who just returned from Brazil.
Aside from the P.3, P.1 variants, health authorities also discovered in recent samples more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom and additional cases of the B.1.351 variant from South Africa.
The Civil Aeronautics Board earlier issued a directive to airlines, limiting the number of inbound international passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to 1,500 daily from March 18 to April 18.*PNA