Oman on list of 32 countries denied travel to the Philippines

Oman Sunday 17/January/2021 13:34 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman on list of 32 countries denied travel to the Philippines

Muscat: Omanis and foreign nationals who wish to travel from Oman to the Philippines cannot do so until at least 31 January, after cases of the new, more infectious COVID strain were detected in the south east Asian country.

Filipino citizens living and working in Oman, however, can return home, but must follow strict COVID prevention protocols, including a 14-day quarantine period, even if they obtain a negative PCR test.

The rules were announced after the new strain of the virus was discovered on a Filipino passenger returning home from the United Arab Emirates. The rule also prevents passengers from transiting through the country.

The presence of the new strain of the virus had been detected by the Department of Health through genome sequencing results. A resident of Quezon City, he left for Dubai on December 27, 2020 for a business trip and arrived in the Philippines last January 7 via Emirates Flight No. EK 332.

Both Oman and the UAE are among 32 countries from where non-Filipinos are not allowed to fly to the Philippines, said Harry Roque, Presidential spokesperson of the Office of the Executive Secretary.

“All unaccompanied minor Filipino citizens coming from countries or jurisdictions where travel restrictions are in place on account of the new variants of COVID-19, shall not be allowed boarding by the airlines until January 31, 2021, except minors returning through the repatriation program of the national government,” he said, speaking to the Philippine News Agency.

European countries included under this ban are the UK, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Austria.
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region include Oman, the UAE, Jordan, Israel, Pakistan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, and Australia.

From the Americas, passengers flying from Brazil, Canada, Jamaica and the United States will be denied entry into the Philippines until further notice. Travellers from South Africa are also on the list.

The ban on passengers from these countries was issued by the Inter Agency Task Force for the Management for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), which is handling the COVID outbreak in the Philippines.

“The IATF, in coordination with other agencies, may issue implementing guidelines on the exemptions to these entry restrictions,” said Roque. Like many other countries across the world, the Philippines has also been organising repatriation flights for its overseas workers. About 1,500 to 2,500 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have been returning home on daily flights to the Philippines.

“We are seeing that many are here for vacation,” said Hans Leo Cacdac, the chief of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. “It is a good sign. It means that their jobs are starting to normalise. We estimate that 50 per cent of people are on vacation. There are some, who are here for good, either they lost their jobs or it is their own decision to stay here”.

In a radio interview last Thursday, he added, “We now have a total of 5,900 OFWs undergoing 14-day quarantine. They are from the nations with the UK variant. Starting today, some are heading home. They’ve finished the 14-day quarantine.”