IATF extends travel ban on 30 countries until end of January

The government’s task force on pandemic response has extended the travel restrictions imposed on foreign travellers coming from countries confirmed to have cases of the new variants of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Friday extended the ban on travellers coming from 33 countries until Jan. 31. 

The list, however, was not expanded to include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country where a Filipino had come from prior to testing positive for the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant.

“The list is for extension of restrictions and not for new (areas),” Presidential Harry L. Roque said in a statement. He earlier said the UAE would likely be included in the travel ban.

Mr. Roque said contact tracing protocols shall be strengthened “by expanding to third-generation contacts for known new variant cases,” adding that all identified close contacts are required to undergo a strict facility-based 14-day quarantine, while remaining contacts from the flight shall be advised of the appropriate quarantine protocols.

He said the Department of Transportation has been directed to strictly implement issuances against airlines that allow the boarding of passengers who are prohibited from entering the Philippines.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has also been mandated to issue the necessary advisories to local government units for the preparation, strengthening, and maintenance of their quarantine facilities and contact tracing efforts to avoid a possible surge of COVID-19 cases, he added. “The DILG is also directed to ensure the proper enforcement of the StaySafe.ph system used by LGUs for ease of contact tracing.” 

The IATF already approved the continuation of weekly genomic biosurveillance activities of the Department of Health, the Philippine Genome Center, and the UP National Institutes of Health among incoming passengers and local cases, “prioritizing hospitalized patients, re-infected patients, and those in clusters,” Mr. Roque said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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