PH to suspend flights from UK from Dec. 24 to 31

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The Philippines is temporarily banning flights from the United Kingdom from December 24 to 31 due to concerns over the spread of a new variant of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), emerging in the UK.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution 90 as part of efforts to prevent the entry of a new variant of SARS-COV-2 in the country.

“The implementation of proactive measures is necessary to ensure the utmost protection of the health of the Filipino people,” the resolution read.

Under the resolution, all passengers who have been to the UK within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, including those merely in transit, are also temporarily restricted from entering the country in the same period.

Passengers already in transit from the UK and all those who have been to the UK within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of December 24, will not be subject to entry restriction but will be required to undergo stricter quarantine and testing protocols.

Such protocols include the observation of an absolute 14-day quarantine period at the Athlete’s Village in the New Clark City, notwithstanding a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result.

Outbound travel to the UK will likewise be subject to the exit protocols of the Philippines and the UK.

Last December 22, the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group, the Philippine Genome Center, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office convened to discuss the reported new variant of coronavirus and later submitted recommendations to the DOH.

More than 40 countries have shut their borders to the UK due to fears over the new coronavirus strain spreading 70 percent faster than others.

UK researchers discovered the variant after collecting samples from infected people in southeastern England.

Large parts of southeast England, including London, are under a new, stricter level of restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Australia, Denmark, and the Netherlands have identified cases of the variant in their countries.

On Monday, BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said he was confident a Covid-19 vaccine co-developed by his company would be effective against a variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in the UK.

According to the WHO, laboratory studies are ongoing to determine whether these variant viruses have different biological properties or alter vaccine efficacy.

It said there is not enough information at present to determine if this variant is associated with any change in the severity of the clinical disease, antibody response, or vaccine efficacy. CURRENTPH

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