Philippines Suspends Decision To Allow Vaccinated Tourists Entry
Umer Jamshaid Published November 29, 2021 | 10:40 AM
Manila, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 29th Nov, 2021 ) :The Philippines has temporarily suspended a decision to allow fully vaccinated tourists entry in a bid to prevent a new, heavily mutated coronavirus variant taking off in the country where most of the population remains unvaccinated.
So far, the country has not reported any cases of the Omicron strain, which was first detected in South Africa and has since spread around the globe.
But the government's Covid-19 task force reversed course over the weekend as it announced the suspension of flights from seven European countries, in addition to an earlier ban on arrivals from several African nations.
"The IATF deemed it necessary to suspend the entry of foreign tourists, given worldwide concerns over the Omicron variant," Bureau of Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente said Monday, using the acronym for the task force.
The decision is a major blow to tourism operators across the archipelago nation, which have been devastated by a plunge in international visitors and restrictions on domestic travel since borders shut in March 2020.
That slumped to 5.4 percent last year as tourist arrivals plummeted 82 percent to 1.48 million.
The government has eased virus restrictions in recent weeks as the daily infection rate hovers at the lowest level since the beginning of the year and the nationwide vaccination rate increases.
But the emergence of Omicron has raised fears curbs could be reimposed.
Around one-third of the country's 110 million people are fully vaccinated.