Philippines, South Korea to suspend flights from Britain due to new coronavirus strain

Travellers arrive at the departure hall of Gimpo airport in Seoul on Sept 29, 2020.
Travellers arrive at the departure hall of Gimpo airport in Seoul on Sept 29, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA/SEOUL (REUTERS, XINHUA) - The Philippines and South Korea will temporarily suspend flights from the United Kingdom until the end of December over fears of a new strain of the coronavirus.

All United Kingdom flights to the Philippines are suspended starting Dec 24 until Dec 31, the Philippines Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

All passengers who have been in the UK in the last 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, including those in transit, are also temporarily restricted from entering the country for the same period.

On the other hand, Mr Roque said passengers already in transit from Britain and all those who have been to Britain within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12.01am of Dec 24, shall not be subject to entry restriction but they would be required to undergo stricter quarantine and testing protocols.

Such protocols include the observation of "an absolute 14-day quarantine period" at the Athlete's Village in the New Clark City, north of Manila, "notwithstanding a negative reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result," he added.

Mr Roque said outbound travel to Britain shall likewise be subject to the existing exit protocols of the Philippines and Britain.

The Department of Health of the Philippines said on Monday that the new strain has not been detected in the Philippines, and that it would continue to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, South Korea will also temporarily suspend flights from the United Kingdom until the end of December, health ministry official Yoon Tae-ho told a briefing on Wednesday.