Portugal has been placed under a state of calamity following the detection of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the country.
Philippine Ambassador Celia Ann Feria also said the country will be under a state of calamity until March. She added that about 2,000 Filipinos are currently in Portugal.
Feria said a majority of Filipinos in Portugal are with their families, adding that it is not a “big problem” that Portugal was included in the Philippines’s ‘red list.’
The official said Filipinos in Portugal are being advised to complete their vaccinations in Portugal before traveling to the Philippines.
Portugal’s vaccination rate currently stands at 90 percent, she said. The official also said some Filipinos in Portugal are planning to make the trip to the Philippines.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) meanwhile has decided not to add any more countries into the Philippines’ red list amid the threat of the Omicron variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier reported that a total of 42 countries or jurisdictions had detected the variant.
“Napagkasunduan po sa IATF na hindi po muna natin dadagdagan dahil padagdag na ng padagdag ang mga bansa. Ang gagawin natin, i-intensify natin ang ginagawang control sa ating borders (It was agreed in the IATF that we will not add more countries because the number of countries reporting the variant keeps increasing. What we will do is to intensify our border controls.),” Vergeire said in a radio interview.
Meanwhile, the latest additions to the list of countries suspected of having a local transmission of the variant include Australia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Australia is included in the country’s yellow list, Zambia is on the green list and Zimbabwe is part of the red list.
The IATF has recently changed the testing and quarantine protocols for travelers arriving from countries that are not on the red list.
Vergeire has also said that the Philippines can only prepare for and delay the entry of the Omicron variant as the government cannot control this.
A total of 532 individuals globally have tested positive for the Omicron variant as of December 5.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) meanwhile said that Filipino and foreign diplomats arriving from countries in the red list are exempted from the travel ban and are allowed to enter the Philippines.
In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the new policy exempting diplomats from the travel ban was adopted under a resolution issued by IATF last Nov. 25. With Vito Barcelo