China is now on the list of countries under the government-imposed travel restrictions.
Four other countries were also included in the list, namely Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman.
During the regular Malacañang press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque read documents released by the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES).
Citing the OES, Roque said that Filipino citizens would still be allowed to enter the Philippines, provided they comply with the protocol, which is to undergo screening for COVID-19 and facility-based quarantine for 14 days.
The addition of China and four other countries brought to 30 the total number of countries from where passengers flying to the Philippines would be prevented from entering. The government said it is part of a stringent measure to prevent the entry into the country of mutated virus strains deemed far more contagious.
The list of countries covered by travel restrictions include the United Kingdom where the new COVID-19 variant was first reported. Others on the list are Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, US, Austria, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Oman.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier hinted of five mutated COVID-19 variants, which it said they are closely monitoring. These are from South Africa [501Y.V2, found in 10 countries], Malaysia [1701V], Nigeria [P681H], Denmark [Cluster 5] and that of China’s D614G.
As this developed, the DOH denied reports circulating on social media on the alleged presence of the mutated virus strain in Metro Manila.
“The Department of Health and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), to date, have not detected the UK variant, or any new variant of SARS-COV-2 in any of the positive samples tested. The DOH and PGC are closely working together in order to intensify on-going biosurveillance efforts,” the DOH said in a statement.