Philippines bans Canadian travellers over new COVID-19 variant fears

Jan 2 2021, 2:56 pm

The president of the Philippines has barred Canadians from entering the country until at least mid-January in an effort to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced the travel ban in a memorandum dated December 29. A total of 19 countries, including Canada, Ireland, Japan, and Australia, are named in the ban.

Foreign travellers who have been to any of the 19 countries listed in the memorandum in the 14 days leading up to their arrival in the Philippines will be barred from entering the country. The ban will be in effect until at least January 15.

Filipino citizens who are returning from any of the identified countries will still be granted entry, but must undergo an “absolute facility-based” 14-day quarantine.

The travel bans are intended to “address the risks posed by the new variant,” and are being imposed “in the interest of protecting the health and safety of the Filipino people,” according to the government.

On December 23, the Philippine government issued a “prohibition of entry” on all travellers arriving from the United Kingdom, and temporarily suspended flights from the country.

Both orders have been extended until January 15, according to the December 29 memorandum.

The Philippine government said it may impose further restrictions if the new COVID-19 variant is detected in other countries.

Data suggests that the new variant, which was first detected in the UK in December, can be transmitted faster than the initial strain of the virus.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that the mutation causes more severe illness, or that vaccines will be any less effective against it.

Canada has banned flights from the UK until at least January 6.