The Philippines on Friday suspended inbound flights from South Africa and other countries amid the presence of a new COVID-19 variant there, which is supposedly more transmissible and dangerous.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) approved the suspension of inbound international flights from the following countries until Dec. 15 due to the threat of the B.1.1.1529 variant: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique
"The Bureau of Quarantine, in close coordination with our local government units, has been directed to locate travelers from the abovementioned countries who may have arrived in the recent 7 days prior to the temporary suspension of inbound travel," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.
The travelers will be required to undergo 2-week quarantine with a mandatory RT-PCR test on the 7th day "upon location of the passenger, whichever is later, with the date of arrival as Day 1," he added.
The B.1.1.529 variant has a "very unusual constellation" of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body's immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists said this week.
A group of Filipino doctors, meanwhile, expressed concern over the possible entry of a new COVID-19 variant amid loosened restrictions.