PH suspends flights from South Africa, 6 other countries due to new COVID-19 variant

Published November 26, 2021, 8:54 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The Philippines has temporarily suspended international inbound flights from South Africa and six other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the new B.1.1.1529 variant of coronavirus (COVID-19) starting November 26 until December 15.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the announcement following the discovery of what is said to be the “most heavily mutated” COVID-19 variant in South Africa.

In his statement, the acting presidential spokesman said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has approved the temporary suspension of flights from South Africa and the following countries until December 15:

  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Lesotho
  • Eswatini
  • Mozambique

According to Nograles, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) has been tasked to locate travelers from the said countries who may have arrived in the past seven days prior to the temporary suspension of inbound travel.

The said travelers shall be required to undergo full 14-day facility-based quarantine with RT-PCR test on the 7th day, or upon the location of the passenger, whichever is later, with the date of arrival as Day 1.

Passengers already in transit from the above-mentioned 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 November 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.

Meanwhile, all passengers merely transiting through the said 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. They shall comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols.

On Friday afternoon, November 26, Nograles said the Department of Health (DOH) and the IATF are “actively monitoring” the developments.

He added that the government is in constant communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the matter.