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A TOP Palace official said Filipino repatriates from India will be allowed to return to the country despite an existing travel ban, which was designed to keep the highly infectious COVID-19 variant known as B.1.617,2, will not reach the country.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the inter-agency task force leading the country’s COVID-19 response opted to allow them to return to the country amid the travel ban, which also suspends the entry of travelers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Oman and the United Arab Emirates until June 15.

He added that the exemption would be used in case the government finds it extremely necessary to repatriate Filipinos from these countries. However, he hinted on the need for the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to conduct prior coordination with each other.

They must also coordinate with the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), the transportation department and its One-Stop Shop, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the task group managing returning Filipinos from abroad, “at least 48 hours prior to the departure from the country of origin,” he said.

“In the case of non-Philippine government repatriation, all Filipino repatriates from the countries with travel restrictions must present a negative RT-PCR test result taken within 48 hours prior to boarding the aircraft or vessel,” Roque said in a statement.

The airline or the shipping line is responsible to check on this requirement. A copy of the negative RT-PCR test result of the repatriate shall be submitted to the BOQ upon arrival in the port of entry in the Philippines,” he added.

Roque further averred that repatriates from countries covered by the travel restrictions shall undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine from the date of arrival in the Philippines.

Since last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the repatriation of some 564,000 overseas Filipino workers.

The Philippines, which has so far recorded some 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and 21,000 casualties, has been extremely cautious against the mutated virus variant from India, now referred to as Delta variant.

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