The Philippines will ban all travellers from 19 countries until mid-January in an attempt to keep out a new variant of the coronavirus, its transport ministry said on Tuesday.
The regulation will be in effect from midnight Dec 29 to Jan 15 and covers Filipinos and foreigners arriving from the flagged countries, the ministry told reporters in a group text message.
Flagged countries now include France, Australia, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Singapore and Japan.
The Philippines previously imposed and later extended a flight ban from Britain until mid-January following the more contagious variant of the Covid-19 virus being first detected in England.
The new variant has not yet been detected anywhere in the Philippines, reports Reuters.
With more than 470,000 infections and over 9,000 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest number of Covid-19 cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.
Health officials said the travel ban could be expanded to include more countries should those report the presence of the new variant at any time.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday extended partial coronavirus restrictions in the capital Manila until the end of January to prevent the spread of infection following Christmas and holiday festivities.
In a national address, Duterte placed the capital region, his hometown Davao City and eight other areas under partial quarantine measures for the entirety of January. Less stringent restrictions will be enforced for the rest of the country.
“Stay home if it is really possible, if you can. It is for your own good,” Duterte told the country.