PH govt. extends travel ban on India, 6 other countries until June 15

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — The Philippine government announced on Monday the extension of the ban on travelers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the extension of the restrictions on travelers from the seven countries upon the recommendation of the national task force against COVID-19, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

In a series of announcements from late April to mid-May, the country barred the entry of travelers from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates until May 31. This is to prevent the spread of the B.1617 "double mutant" variant of the coronavirus first discovered in India.

Even with this directive, however, the Philippines on May 11 confirmed its first two cases of the B.1617 variant — both returning overseas Filipinos who had no travel history from India. Since then, the country has detected a total of 13 people infected with the same variant.

According to the Department of Health, there are also now at least 1,071 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom and 1,246 cases of the B.1.351 variant from South Africa. These are seen to have contributed to the spikes in infections in some areas.

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On Friday, neighboring country Vietnam also said it has detected a new variant described to be a combination of the ones found in India and the UK.