The Philippines will bar the entry of travelers from India or with travel history to India in the last 14 days to prevent the transmission of a “double mutant” coronavirus strain, Malacañang announced Tuesday night.
“All travelers coming from India or those with travel history to India within the last 14 days preceding arrival shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines beginning 0001H of April 29, 2021, until May 14, 2021,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.
Passengers already in transit from India and all those who have been there within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines who arrive before April 29, 2021 shall not be subject to the travel restriction.
However, they will be required to undergo 14-day facility-based quarantine period despite acquiring a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result.
Roque said restrictions to travelers coming from other countries that report the new strain may be imposed by the Office of the President upon the joint recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
He said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) should ensure that airlines are directed to prohibit the boarding of passengers entering the country except if they are part of the repatriation efforts of the national government.
Currently, foreigners, except diplomats and healthcare workers, are still barred from entering the Philippines.
Foreign parents, spouses, and children of Filipinos may enter the country, provided they are traveling with the Filipino principal, and have a valid entry.
In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he recommended a travel ban on visitors from the entire Indian subcontinent.
“I have suggested to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) that a travel ban be imposed on all our good friends in the entire Indian subcontinent; it’s not personal; it’s for everyone’s safety for now; we’ll be able to be together again and we can recall the time when we had to be apart to live,” he said.
The Indian subcontinent covers India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, and the island nations of Sri Lanka and Maldives.
Philippine Ambassador in New Delhi Ramon Bagatsing Jr., in a virtual presser, said the Covid-19 situation in India is “very serious.”