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Government likely to ban foreigners from UAE — Malacañang

THE PHILIPPINES would probably include the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in its travel ban after a Filipino from Dubai tested positive for a more contagious coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom (UK), according to the presidential palace.

“Because of this discovery, chances are there will be travel restrictions imposed on the UAE,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. told an online news briefing on Thursday.

The ban will depend on the recommendations of the Health and Foreign Affairs departments, he added.

Mr. Roque earlier announced a travel ban on China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg and Oman.

The Philippines last year banned foreign travelers from the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Austria, Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy and Lebanon.

The  ban that will end on Friday is subject to an extension. An inter-agency task force (IATF) made up of Cabinet secretaries was set to discuss the possible extension and expansion of the travel ban at a meeting on Thursday, Mr. Roque said.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said he would recommend the travel ban on the UAE. “The Office of the President will no doubt approve this,” he told an online news briefing.

The Department of Health (DoH) on Wednesday said the UK coronavirus variant had been detected from samples of a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 7.

The male resident from Quezon City went to Dubai on Dec. 27 and came back last week via an Emirates Flight. His female partner who accompanied him on his trip had tested negative for the coronavirus but was under strict quarantine.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told the same briefing five household members who had close contact with the Filipino couple had been isolated. They had no symptoms and were yet to be tested.

Ninety-two of the 159 passengers of the Emirates flight had been contacted, 52 of whom responded, she said.

Meanwhile, she also said the UK coronavirus variant had not been detected from the close contacts of the Filipina domestic worker who tested positive for the strain in Hong Kong.

“The UK variant was not detected among contacts in the National Capital Region and Cagayan,” she said.

Ms. Vergeire said the contacts had tested positive for the coronavirus but a low viral load was detected.

“They remain under strict facility quarantine and under close monitoring,” she added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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