The Philippines has put on hold its plan to allow vaccinated visitors to enter the country

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The Philippines has temporarily put on hold a decision to admit fully vaccinated visitors into the nation to avoid the spread of a novel coronavirus type in a country where most of the population is still unvaccinated. It comes as the Southeast Asian nation started a three-day vaccination push on Monday (November 29) aimed at nine million individuals as young as 12 years old to speed up the roll-out of vaccines.
So far, no instances of the Omicron strain, initially discovered in South Africa and has subsequently spread throughout the world, have been recorded in the nation.
As part of its efforts to revitalize the country’s devastated economy, Manila announced plans last week to allow fully vaccinated visitors from most nations to enter starting December 1. But, over the weekend, the government’s Covid-19 task committee altered direction, announcing the suspension of flights from seven European countries, in addition to an earlier restriction on arrivals from five African countries.
“Given widespread worries about the Omicron strain, the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution) decided it essential to prohibit the admission of foreign visitors,” stated Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente on Monday.
The judgment is a significant setback for tourist businesses across the archipelago nation, which have been hit hard by a drop in foreign visitors and domestic movement restrictions since the country’s borders closed in March 2020. According to official figures, tourism is a critical economic engine in the country, accounting for roughly 13% of GDP in 2019, when over eight million people came. Last year, it fell to 5.4 percent as visitor numbers fell by 82 percent to 1.48 million.

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