New Covid strain spooks the Philippines

MANILA, 6 January 2021: Philippines’ Department of Tourism throws its full support behind the government’s latest entry protocols to prevent transmission of a more contagious Covid-19 variant gaining a foothold in the country.

Studies are underway to determine if the variant has already entered the Philippines with a response from the government on the investigation expected by next week. In the meantime, the country is taking no chances and banning visitors from territories where the new variant has shown up in positive Covid-19 tests. 

“While we favour the resumption of inbound travel to stimulate economic recovery, we value above all else the health and safety of our people. In this light, we ask for the understanding and cooperation of inbound travellers in adhering to the measures put in place to ensure the protection of both guests and local communities,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a news release on Wednesday quoted by the official Philippines News Agency.

Health and Safety Guidelines have been prepared by the DOT for the following tourism enterprises to ensure the safe stay of visitors and protection of workers and host communities: attractions, restaurants, accommodation establishments, tourist land transport, travel and tour operations, tour guides, island and beach destinations, dive establishments, staycation hotels, spa, and meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition facilities.

“We put our full trust in our front-liners at the international ports of entry as well as in our local government units (LGU) to strictly carry out these measures at borders,” the DOT chief said.

She also called for close cooperation among tourism destination managers, enterprises and host communities in reinforcing the minimum health and safety standards in their respective areas, including the 14-day quarantine in hotels that serve as quarantine facilities.

The Philippines on Tuesday banned “all foreign travellers” from territories where the new coronavirus strain known as B117 is prevalent.

These countries and territories include the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, and Spain.

(Source PNA)