PH includes Malaysia, Thailand in travel ban starting July 25

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — Travelers from Malaysia and Thailand will not be allowed to enter the Philippines starting July 25 to control the transmission of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Friday that the two countries are now included in the country's expanded travel ban list.

"Beginning 12:01 a.m. of July 25, 2021 until 11:59 p.m. of July 31, 2021, such travelers shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines," Roque said in a statement.

He added that passengers already in transit from the said countries, and all those who have been there within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01AM of July 25, may still be allowed to enter the country but will be required to undergo a full 14-day facility quarantine, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR test result.

The travel ban exempts Filipinos who are part of repatriation efforts or special commercial flights, Roque said.

Nations already listed in the travel ban are Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

The Health Department detected the local transmission of the feared Delta variant on Thursday after reporting 12 new local cases, bringing the country's tally to 47.

The government placed Metro Manila, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte under general community quarantine with "heightened restrictions" starting Friday until July 31 to control COVID-19 transmission.

READ: NCR, 4 provinces under GCQ ‘with heightened restrictions’ until end-July
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Kristina Uy Gadaingan, who works for a non-government organization in Kuala Lumpur, said Malaysia has been on lockdown for about three months now, similar to the Philippines' enhanced community quarantine classification.

She described that residents in the area are restricted to moving within a ten-kilometer radius from their homes. Multiple checkpoints are set up to monitor movement.

"No inter-state travel, walang [no] dine-in. Sarado ang shopping malls [Shopping malls are closed]," she told CNN Philippines' News.PH.

However, she assured her family that she was doing well.

Pule Mapacpac, a Filipino assistant principal based in Bangkok, shared that the Philippine Embassy in Thailand is helping register overseas Filipinos in the area for vaccination.

He said that among the health restrictions imposed in the country are the closure of establishments such as parks, restaurants, and massage parlors, as well as a curfew at 8 p.m. that also covers convenience stores.

Despite the strict rules, Mapacpac said he prefers to stay abroad because he might face difficulty in returning to Thailand if he flies home to the Philippines.

"I'd rather stay here siguro kasi kumpiyansa naman ako sa mga efforts ng government at ng mga school dito [I think, because I have confidence in the efforts of the government and the schools here]," he said during the same interview.