MANILA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines has extended the travel restriction for foreign travelers from or transiting through 33 countries and regions with reported cases of the new coronavirus variants until Jan. 31, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Friday.
The government announced the extension barely two days after the Philippines confirmed its first case of the more contagious strain first found in Britain - a Filipino man with travel history to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Philippines has imposed travel restrictions on travellers from 33 countries and regions initially until Jan. 15.
All foreign travelers from or transiting through these 33 areas are not allowed to enter the Philippines.
Filipinos, including overseas Filipino workers entering the Philippines from or who have been to the affected countries and jurisdictions, are allowed entry. However, they need to complete a strict 14-day quarantine at a government-run isolation facility even if coronavirus tests show negative results.
"Contact tracing protocols shall be strengthened by expanding to third-generation contacts for a known new variant cases," Roque said in a statement.
"All identified close contacts are required to undergo a strict facility-based 14-day quarantine while remaining contacts from the flight manifest shall be advised of the appropriate quarantine protocols," he added.
The Philippines is now conducting weekly genomic biosurveillance for all incoming passengers to detect the new variants.
The Philippines has urged all travelers to postpone their travel until after the lifting of the restrictions.
The Philippines now has 494,605 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 9,739 deaths.