DFA to Filipinos abroad: Postpone trips home amid travel limits over new COVID-19 variant

ABS-CBN News

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has urged overseas Filipinos planning to return to the country to consider postponing trips as the government widened its list of countries with restricted travel due to the fast-spreading new COVID-19 variant.

In a statement Saturday, the DFA said it would be better for Filipinos to reconsider travelling to the Philippines until just the end of travel restrictions on Jan. 15 to avoid inconvenience.

The agency also noted the limited number of quarantine facilities in place for arriving passengers.

“The DFA once again calls for all travelers to the country to carefully reconsider their travel plans, including postponing their trips until after the end of the travel restrictions to avoid personal inconvenience and possible additional expenses as well as help prevent the incidence of the new COVID-19 variant in the country,” the statement read.

The country, the DFA said, would implement a strict and mandatory 14-day quarantine for passengers who arrive from countries with the reported presence of the new COVID-19 variant, even if these passengers obtained a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test results.

The DFA also reminded passengers of a limited number of quarantine facilities accredited by the Department of Health.

Foreigners who arrived in the Philippines, meanwhile, who directly came or entered within the last 14 days countries included in the Philippine travel ban will be restricted from entry, the department emphasized.

“This applies notwithstanding previous visa status, past IATF (Inter-agency Task Force on COVID-19 response) approval of exemptions and relation to Filipino citizens,” it noted.

The DFA also confirmed that passengers from the United States would also be temporarily barred from the country starting Jan. 3 following Malacañang’s announcement on Friday.

Passengers transiting through the airports of countries with travel restrictions may see specific regulations here, per the DFA.

The countries listed in the government’s travel restrictions since Dec. 24 have detected the presence of the new COVID-19 strain initially found in the United Kingdom (UK). These include the UK, France, the United States, Singapore, and Italy, among others.

As of Saturday, the DOH announced that the new COVID-19 variant is yet to be detected in the Philippines despite its presence in neighboring countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

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