The Philippine government has extended the ban on travelers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates until July 15.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III first confirmed this to CNN Philippines via text message on Tuesday.
Harry Roque, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Task Force, also made the announcement in his noontime briefing.
This is the fourth time that travel restrictions were imposed on the seven countries to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant that first emerged in India.
In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source, Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Rosario Vergeire said the government can only retain the ban on the seven countries severely hit by the Delta variant. Health experts and public officials have agreed that travelers from 85 other countries which have also recorded the variant cannot be banned, she added.
“We can see right now that there are 92 countries with the Delta variant and we cannot isolate the Philippines from all of these countries,” Vergeire said. “Our recommendation will be not to add additional countries to be banned but let’s try to strengthen more our border controls.”
Roque said the government will continue to strengthen border protocols for travelers from Indonesia, which has recently experienced a surge of Delta variant. The neighboring Southeast Asian country is not part of the travel ban despite recording a tally of over 2.1 million cases and over 57,100 deaths to date.
The Philippine Genome Center earlier said the 17 cases of the so-called “double mutant” variant were from returning Filipino travelers. No community transmission has been reported so far.
CNN Philippines’ Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.