MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said it is highly likely that travel restrictions will be imposed on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after health authorities confirmed the presence of the new coronavirus variant in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday night confirmed that it has detected the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant (UK variant) from a Filipino who arrived from the UAE last Jan. 7.
Currently, the close contacts of the man who tested positive for the new coronavirus variant had been traced and isolated.
“That [travel restriction] will be upon the joint recommendation of the DOH and the [Department of Foreign Affairs] and because of this discovery, chances are yes there will be travel restrictions imposed on the UAE,” Roque said in a press briefing.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte will make a formal decision on whether to include the UAE to the list of 33 nations already covered by travel restrictions.
“Antayin nalang natin ang pormal na desisyon ng Presidente (Let’s just wait for the formal decision of the President) which will be forthcoming very soon,” he added.
Roque earlier announced the temporary travel ban on the entry of foreign travelers from China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman.
United Kingdom, the United States, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, and Austria are also covered by the temporary travel ban.
The temporary travel ban on these nations will be in effect until Jan. 15, 2021 subject to the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Roque said the IATF will be meeting this afternoon to discuss the possible extension of the temporary travel ban.
However, he also advised foreign travelers in the countries covered by travel restrictions not to visit the Philippines.
“Huwag na kayong bumili ng ticket kung manggagaling kayo sa lugar na ‘yan at hindi kayo Pilipino (Don’t buy tickets if you’re coming from those countries and you’re not Filipino),” he said.
On the other hand, Filipinos are still allowed to return home subject to an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, even if they obtain a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result.
“Nanindigan na po ang Presidente, walang Pilipino na pupuwedeng mapigilang mapauwi (The President has made his stand, no Filipino will be prevented from returning home),” he said. (PNA)