The Philippines will lift the travel ban for all inbound travellers from 10 countries, including Sri Lanka, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from Today (6), the presidential spokesperson said on Saturday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement that the ban, put in place in April then expanded to more countries in July to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, will be lifted on Monday.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the inter-agency Covid-19 task force to lift the current travel restrictions in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the UAE, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Roque said that travellers from these 10 countries will have to spend 14 days in quarantine upon arrival.
“International travellers coming from the above-mentioned countries shall, however, comply with the appropriate entry, testing, and quarantine protocols,” Roque said in a statement.
However, foreign tourists are still banned from entering the country except for holders of special visas such as diplomats and foreign spouses of Filipino citizens.
The Philippines is grappling with soaring Covid-19 infections and has reported 2,040,568 Covid-19 cases, including 33,873 deaths, as of Friday. According to the Philippines’ department of health, there were 20,310 new Covid-19 infections on Friday. Data shows that the caseload is the second-highest single-day tally since the coronavirus pandemic began in January last year.
The country has detected 1,789 Delta cases, including 33 deaths, as the local transmission of the variant has spread to communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the community transmission of the Delta variant, saying it is now the dominant Covid-19 strain spreading in the Philippines.
Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has warned that the number of Covid-19 cases will continue to rise due to the spread of the Delta and other coronavirus variants. She also said that local governments have imposed granular lockdown in Metro Manila and other areas across the country with virus clusters to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The Philippines has the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Surging Covid-19 cases driven by the Delta variant have been overwhelming hospitals even as healthcare workers have protested to end to what they called government neglect and unpaid benefits.