Manila bans travelers from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan


THE PHILIPPINES on Wednesday banned travelers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka to prevent the spread of a double-mutant coronavirus first discovered in India, according to the presidential palace.

“All passengers coming from or who have been to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines shall be prohibited from entering the country,” according to a copy of a memo issued by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea.

The  ban will be for a week starting May 7.

Filipino and foreign passengers merely transiting through these countries won’t be barred from entering Manila as long as they stayed in the airport the whole time.

Nepal is being overwhelmed by a coronavirus surge as India’s outbreak spreads across South Asia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Wednesday.

Hospital intensive care units in India’s other neighbors including Pakistan and Bangladesh were full or close to capacity, as the outbreak spreads, it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Board (CAB) has increased the limit on international arrivals at the international airport in Manila to 2,000 passengers from 1,500 daily.

The new policy takes effect this month, according to a copy of the agency’s May 3 advisory released by Philippine Airlines on Wednesday.

“Airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport that will exceed the allowed capacity will be meted with the appropriate penalty,” CAB said.

“While this is an improvement, the increase is on the conservative side,” Philippine Airlines spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna said in a statement.

“Philippine Airlines had to cancel 200 international flights to Manila throughout mid-March to April. And our cancellations continue.”

The flag carrier last week said it was planning to mount non-stop flights between Manila and Tel Aviv by October.

The company is eyeing twice weekly nonstop flights to Tel Aviv’s Gurion international Airport using its Airbus A350 aircraft.

Philippine passport holders can travel to Israel visa-free for as long as 90 days. — Arjay L. Balinbin