Austria added to travel ban due to new COVID-19 variant – BI

Passengers from Austria have been added to the list of travel restricted countries not allowed to enter the country.

Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente announced foreign passengers coming from or have been to Austria 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines shall be prohibited from entering the country.

“The restriction for those coming from Austria will start at 12:01 midnight of January 10, and will be in effect until January 15,” he stated.

The added restriction brings the total number of restricted countries to 28.

Earlier, the government imposed a travel ban on travelers from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong SAR, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, , Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, and the United States.

Included yesterday are Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, and Brazil.

However, Morente clarified that Filipinos coming from said countries will be allowed entry, but will be referred to the airport’s one-stop shop to “undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result,” he added.

Those who will be merely transiting in the said 28 countries will not be required to undergo the 14-day quarantine, but will still have to undergo regular protocols for arriving passengers.

“They will be considered transiting if they merely stayed in the airport, were just there for a layover, and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities in the said countries,” said Morente.

Austria added to travel ban due to new COVID-19 variant – BI

The expanded travel restrictions have been directed by Malacanang following the reported new South African Covid-19 variant.

The said Wednesday that the , identified as B.1.1.7, is not yet detected in the Philippines.

The DOH made the statement after Hong Kong authorities that a passenger from the Philippines tested positive for the UK COVID-19 variant. The traveler arrived in Hong Kong on December 22, 2020.

“The DOH and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) today report that the said variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has not yet been detected in the country,” the DOH said in a statement.

“Based on the lineage analysis through whole-genome sequencing done by the PGC, the UK variant was not detected in any of the 305 positive samples submitted to them from nine institutions.”

PGC analyzed 305 positive samples collected from admissions from November to December and from the travelers who arrived at the airport and tested positive for COVID-19.