The Philippines has barred the entry of travelers coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka from May 7 to May 14 to curb the spread of a reported “double mutant” coronavirus strain found in India.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, through memorandum released yesterday, added the four countries after banning travelers coming from India on April 27.
“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 May 7 until May 12,” the memorandum read.
Filipino passengers coming from or who have been to the four countries within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, arriving before May 7 (Manila time) shall not be prohibited from entering the Philippines, but shall be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period despite acquiring a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result.
Filipinos and foreign passengers merely transmitting 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 have stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into these countries by their immigration authorities.
Upon arrival in the Philippines, these passengers need not complete a full 14-day facility-based quarantine but shall comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols of the national government.
All specimens from travelers 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 14 days and contact tracing shall expand up to the third generation contacts.
Existing prohibitions and procedures on entry generally applicable to arriving passengers, insofar as consistent with said policy, shall continue to be implemented.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases may provide rules and regulations to implement this and related directives, which may include reasonable exceptions to the entry restrictions and protocols imposed by this office in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 variant.
The Indian subcontinent covers India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, and the island nations of Sri Lanka and Maldives.
In March, India announced that a new variant had been identified in samples of saliva taken from people in Maharashtra, Delhi, and Punjab after a month of seeing a surge in cases of Covid-19 across the country.
The variant is known as B.1.617 and has two unusual mutations: E484Q and L425R.
As of Tuesday, Covid-19 infections in India surged past 20 million with more hospitals running out of beds and oxygen.
The World Health Organization earlier reported that India and Brazil accounted for more than half of the new Covid-19 infections in the world last week.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the organization is ready to step up its support to India to combat the Covid-19 wave in the South Asian country.*PNA