PH temporarily bans travelers from India amid COVID-19 threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27)— The Philippines will ban the entry of travelers from India as well as those with recent travel history to the South Asian country from April 29 to May 14, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.

"All travelers coming from India or those with travel history to India within the last fourteen (14) days preceding arrival shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines beginning 0001H of April 29, 2021, until May 14, 2021," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Roque noted passengers already in transit from India as well as those with travel history to the country who will arrive before April 29 will not be subjected to the new restriction. However, they will be required to undergo strict COVID-19 quarantine and testing protocols.

"The Department of Transportation should ensure that airlines are directed not to allow the boarding of passengers entering the country pursuant to travel restrictions imposed by the Office of the President and IATF resolutions except if they are part of the repatriation efforts of the national government," Roque added.

In a message sent to reporters, Foreign Affairs Executive Director for Strategic Communications Ivy Banzon-Abalos explained the exception does not only include overseas Filipino workers, but all Filipino citizens who need assistance to return to the country.

"In general, our repatriation efforts cover all Filipino citizens who need assistance in returning to the Philippines. It is just the case that OFWs make up the huge proportion of the repatriates," Abalos said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier in the day said he recommended to the IATF that the Philippines suspend the entry of flights from India due to its second wave of coronavirus infections.

The United States, Hong Kong, Pakistan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, among others have already put India on the travel ban list to preempt transmission.

India is experiencing the world's worst outbreak after cases rapidly accelerated in early March — around the time when the "double mutant" variant of COVID-19 was discovered in the country.

Daily cases there have been rising continuously for the past 10 days. On Monday, India reported 352,991 new cases, breaking yet another record for the highest single-day figure globally.