Travel ban tied to COVID-19 variant to last until September 5

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Overseas Filipino workers arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque City on July 1, Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News/Files

MANILA — The Philippines is extending a ban on the entry of tourists from 10 countries until Sept. 5 to stem the spread of a more contagious variant of COVID-19 linked to rising infection rates, Malacañang said on Friday.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said he approved extending the travel ban to Sept. 5 from an Aug. 31 end date.

The restrictions cover India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, Roque said in a statement.

“These travel restrictions form part of aggressive measures to slow the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, stop further spread of the mutated virus, and increase existing healthcare capacity in the country,” he said.

Malacañang earlier said the travel ban does not include Filipinos involved in repatriation efforts or special commercial flights.

The Philippines, which has one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia, is battling a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases caused by community transmission of the more contagious Delta variant.

Health authorities have recorded approximately 1.98 million COVID-19 cases, including 145,562 active infections.

The government is pinning its hopes of economic recovery on a vaccination program that began in March.

So far, at least 13.7 million of the 70 million target have been fully vaccinated.

— According to Reuters

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