The Philippines has started barring the entry of travelers from Oman and the United Arab Emirates as part of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly the COVID-19 variant from India.
“All existing travel restrictions of passengers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are extended until 2359H of May 31, 2021,” Philippine presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said in a statement.
“The Department of Transportation should ensure that airlines are directed not to allow the boarding of passengers who are prohibited from entering the country pursuant to travel restrictions imposed by the Office of the President and IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) resolutions except if they are part of the repatriation efforts of the national government,” Roque added.
The Philippines on Saturday reported 10 new COVID-19 cases of the so-called ‘double mutant’ variant first detected in India, bringing the total to 12. The India coronavirus variant carries two mutations, E484Q and L425R.
Experts say the E484Q mutation is similar to the E484K mutation or the ‘escape mutation’ which helps the virus gets past the body’s immune system, while L452R is found to be an efficient spreader of the coronavirus.
The first two reported cases were overseas Filipino workers who separately arrived from Oman and the UAE, which prompted Philippine authorities to consequently impose the travel ban until the end of the month.
Both Gulf countries host a huge community of Filipino expatriate workers, and the Philippine government has implemented measures to ensure those returning to the country follow stringent protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.