PH expands 'red list' to control Omicron threat

By Azer Parrocha

November 28, 2021, 7:17 pm Updated on November 28, 2021, 11:12 pm

<p>Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (File photo)

MANILA – The Philippines has expanded travel restrictions to include seven more countries in the "red list" to contain the spread of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, Malacañang said on Sunday.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) added Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy to the red list, according to a press statement from Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

Already on the red list are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

Prior to the declaration of the ban on Friday, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe were in the “green” list.

The red list or areas considered as “high-risk” for Covid-19 will be updated after December 15.

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries/jurisdictions/territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” Nograles said.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and so-called Bayanihan (Cooperation) flights will be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for red list countries/jurisdictions/territories.

Passengers already in transit and all those who have been to the red list countries/territories/jurisdictions within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines and who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30 will not be subject to restrictions.

They will undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the seventh day, with day 1 being the date of arrival, notwithstanding a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) result.

On the other hand, passengers who arrived before November 28 and are currently undergoing quarantine pursuant to the classifications of their country of origin will complete their testing and quarantine protocols.

In the case of passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through the red countries, they will not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed at the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.

However, they are required to comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols.

On Friday, the World Health Organization declared the Omicron variant of Covid-19 to be "of concern".

It was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on November 24 and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel.

A number of countries have already imposed travel restrictions to and from southern Africa. (PNA)