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Philippines finally imposes travel restrictions on China over COVID-19 virus variant

The Philippines finally imposed travel restrictions on China nearly two weeks after the Asian giant detected its first case of the new COVID-19 virus variant.

Malacañang announced a ban on the entry of all non-Filipino travelers coming from China on Tuesday, January 12. Apart from China, the same restrictions were announced for Jamaica, Luxembourg, Oman, and Pakistan.

But the ban on China and the 4 other countries will last for only two days.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the prohibition would take effect on Wednesday, January 13, at 12 noon and last only until Friday, January 15.

China first detected the more transmissible B117 variant weeks ago. A publication by its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported the new variant on December 30, found in a 23-year-old student who flew to China from the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Philippines had imposed travel restrictions on the United States and several other countries within two days of the US announcing its first case of the variant.

The restrictions on the US and other countries will also last until January 15.

Why did it take long?

Last January 7, Roque tried to explain why the government continued to exclude China in the list of countries facing Philippine travel restrictions. He said it was because "international agencies" had yet to confirm the Chinese case at the time.

"It hasn't been reported by international agencies. All we know are media reports," he said, before giving assurances that the list would be updated if necessary.

Previously, the Department of Health said travel restrictions would only be imposed on countries where there was community transmission of the new virus variant. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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