International

Philippines to reimpose entry curbs as Covid cases spike

MANILA, MAR 17 (IANS) | Publish Date: 3/17/2021 1:39:29 PM IST

The Philippines has announced that it will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners and some citizens as the Southeast Asian country battles a renewed spike in Covid-19 cases.

In a statement issued on Tuesday night, the Philippines’ coronavirus task force said foreign citizens and returning nationals who had not been working overseas will not be able to enter the country from March 20 to April 19 under the ban.

The task force also directed concerned agencies to limit the number of inbound international passengers to 1,500 a day. However, the ban doesn’t include foreign government officials, diplomats, and Filipino workers returning from overseas, Xinhua reported.

“This is in view of the rising Covid-19 cases and the entry of the virus variants in the country,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a video message sent to the media.

Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello on Wednesday also welcomed the suspension, saying the limit would help ease the burden on hotel quarantine facilities.

“Truthfully, we are running out of hotels ... We reach as far as Tagaytay, as far as Batangas, in search of hotel for quarantine accommodation. This is a good policy,” he said.

The Southeast Asian country has just opened its door ajar to allow the entry of some foreigners who already have visas and exemption letters, after having closed its door to foreign travellers for a long time.

But the country is now experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases and increasing infections of new variants.

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,387 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 635,698.

The death toll climbed to 12,866 after 18 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

Alethea De Guzman of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau told reporters in an online briefing that 10 of the country’s 17 regions see positive growth, primarily Metro Manila and a region in the northern Philippines.

She said five regions have confirmed local cases with the variant first found in Britain. Three regions have confirmed local cases with the variant identified in South Africa.

She said these variants have emerged in 15 of the 16 cities in Metro Manila. “Twenty-seven percent of the cases were detected among the international travellers,” she said.

 

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