MANILA, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines has imposed a ban on flights from Britain over fears of the transmission of a newly-detected coronavirus variant that is more infectious, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday.
The Philippines is the first Southeast Asian country to suspend air travel from Britain amid concerns about the spread of the fast-spreading strain detected there.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Tuesday night the temporary suspension of all flights from Britain starting Dec. 24 until Dec. 31, Roque said in a statement.
All passengers who have been in Britain within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, including those merely in transit, are also temporarily restricted from entering the country for the same period, Roque said.
On the other hand, Roque said passengers already in transit from Britain and all those who have been to Britain within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of Dec. 24, shall not be subject to entry restriction but they would be required to undergo stricter quarantine and testing protocols.
Such protocols include the observation of "an absolute 14-day quarantine period" at the Athlete's Village in the New Clark City, north of Manila, "notwithstanding a negative reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result," he added.
Roque said outbound travel to Britain shall likewise be subject to the existing exit protocols of the Philippines and Britain.
On the newly found and more infectious strain of coronavirus in Britain, the Department of Health of the Philippines said on Monday that the new strain has not been detected in the Philippines, and that it would continue to monitor the situation.
The Philippines now has 462,815 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 9,021 deaths.