THE Philippines temporarily suspended flights from South Africa, Botswana, and other countries where a new coronavirus variant has been found, Malacanang announced on Friday.
“The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) approved on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, the temporary suspension of inbound international flights from South Africa, Botswana, and other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the B.1.1.1529 variant,” Acting Palace spokesman Karlo Alexei Nograles said in a statement.
“This shall take effect immediately and until 15 December 2021,” the Palace official added.
Nograles, who is also the spokesman of the IATF, said the Bureau of Quarantine, in close coordination with the local government units, “has been directed to locate travelers from the abovementioned countries who may have arrived in the recent seven days prior to the temporary suspension of inbound travel.”
“These travelers shall be required to undergo full 14-day facility-based quarantine with RT-PCR test on the seventh day or upon location of the passenger, whichever is later, with the date of arrival as Day 1,” he said.
The IATF likewise approved the temporary suspension of inbound international flights from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, which are adjacent to South Africa and Botswana, according to Nograles.
“Passengers coming from or having been to these abovementioned countries within the last 14 days prior to arrival shall be temporarily barred from entering the country,” he said.
“Passengers already in transit from the abovementioned countries and all those who have been to the same within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01 a.m of Nov. 28, 2021, shall not be barred from entry, but shall be required to undergo stricter quarantine and testing protocols such as the observation of an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nograles said that all passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through the abovementioned countries “shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed in the airport the entire time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities”.
“Finally, upon arrival in the Philippines, passengers covered by the immediately preceding paragraph shall comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols,” he said.