Philippines bans travellers from 20 nations with new Covid-19 strain

The Philippines will ban travellers from 19 countries and territories until mid-January 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - The Philippines has decided to ban travellers from 20 nations with the new Covid-19 strain, Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said on Tuesday (Dec 29).

The travel ban covers Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the UK, Mr Bello said.

The ban will be effective Dec 30 to Jan 15, and applies only to Hong Kong and not the whole of China, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a separate briefing.

Filipino workers returning from these countries are exempted from the ban, said the labour chief, who expects as many as 100,000 more repatriates. The new strain hasn't been detected in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health.

Daily infections rose by 886 on Tuesday, the third straight day when the new case count is below 1,000 as testing also falls below target. With total of more than 471,000, the Philippines has the second highest cases in southeast Asia, next only to Indonesia.

The Philippines has approved Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc's application to conduct a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine in the Southeast Asian nation, Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo said earlier Tuesday.

"In the next few weeks, we will be able to begin clinical trials," Mr Domingo said.

The trial applications of Chinese firms Sinovac Biotech Ltd and Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc, and Pfizer Inc's application for emergency use for its vaccine are still under review, he said.

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