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MALACAÑANG has included the United Arab Emirates and Hungary in the government-imposed travel ban, which had just been extended until the end of the month.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Department of Health to include UAE and Hungary among the restricted list of countries where various forms of mutated coronavirus have been reported.

In its recommendation, the DOH cited the need to include UAE’s inclusion in the travel ban after the UK variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 was detected on a Filipino who recently traveled to the Arab nation.

Foreigners who arrived before January 17 will be required to undergo facility-based 14-day quarantine, even if they obtain a negative RT-PCR test result.

On the other hand, Filipinos will be allowed to enter the Philippines as long as they undergo screening for COVID-19 and 14-day facility-based quarantine.

Roque said that the government opted to extend until January 31 the travel restrictions [which supposedly expired last Friday] on foreign passengers from 32 countries to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus variant.

Under the extended travel ban, arriving Filipino minors – accompanied or otherwise, would not be sent back from where came from, even as Roque hinted unaccompanied minor Filipino citizens coming from countries where travel restrictions are in place on account of the new variants of COVID-19 would not be allowed boarding by the airlines until January 31, except minors returning through the repatriation program of the national government.

The repatriated minors will be turned over to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration house parent who, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), should ensure the minors’ safety and their observance of quarantine protocols.

All unaccompanied minor Filipino citizens who land on Philippine airports, notwithstanding the prohibition against boarding, should not be sent back to their port of departure.

However, they will be turned over to an authorized DSWD officer who can ensure the minors’ safety and their observance of quarantine protocols.

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