Philippines tightens controls on inbound travellers over COVID-19 variants

Manila: Travellers entering the Philippines will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine, up from a week previously, as authorities try to contain more infectious coronavirus variants, the presidential spokesman said on Friday.

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The new controls will apply regardless of whether a visitor has been vaccinated and the first 10 days of quarantine will be in a government-accredited facility and the remainder at home, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a briefing.

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Visitors will get a COVID-19 test on the seventh day after arrival, but will still be required to complete a 10-day stay in a facility even if they test negative, Roque said.

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The Southeast Asian country is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia with more than a million infections, including those caused by variants first detected in Britain and South Africa, and more than 18,000 deaths.

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In a bid to prevent the entry of a variant first identified in India, the Philippines has temporarily barred travellers coming from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh from entering the country.

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The new controls come after five passengers arriving in the last month with a travel history to India tested positive for COVID-19. Samples had been taken in order to do genome sequencing, the health ministry has said.

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The Philippines also allowed a container ship with a travel history to India to dock on Thursday to provide medical assistance to 12 of the 21 Filipino crew members who tested positive for COVID-19.

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Out of the 12, two were in critical condition and had to be evacuated to a medical facility for treatment, while the others were receiving care on the ship, the transport ministry said on Friday.

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