PH suspends entry of foreign tourists amid Omicron variant threat

The government has already suspended the opening of the Philippines to foreign tourists due to another threat of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron.

“The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Ma­nagement of Emerging Infectious Diseases) deemed it necessary to suspend the entry of foreign tourists, given worldwide concerns over the Omicron variant,” said Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.

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Last week, the government announced it would open the Philippines to foreign tourists from countries that are on the green list or those low risk in COVID-19 and vaccinated on December 1.

Following this, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) placed seven other countries in Europe on the Phl Red List based on the IATF’s recommendation as part of the precautionary measures against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Morente said the Red List included Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and from November 28 to December 15.

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Included in the Red List was South Africa, which is said to be the origin of the Omicron variant and even its neighboring countries Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

Also read: Omicron variant expected to enter the Philippines – Duque

PH suspends entry of foreign tourists amid Omicron variant threat

“Those coming from red list countries within the last 14 days before arrival shall not be allowed to enter the Philippines,” said Morente.

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Filipinos will be allowed to enter through ‘government and government repatriation’ and Bayanihan flights, but they will have to abide by health protocols set by the Bureau of Quarantine.

Travelers who have left such countries before November 30 will still be allowed to enter the Philippines but will also be subject to the health protocols of the BOQ.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), whether Omicron could cause higher transmission or more severe cases was not yet clear. The new COVID-19 variant was first detected in Southern Africa.

“Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection,” said.

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