Dozens of countries closed their borders to the Britain in recent weeks over rising cases of a variant that is believed to spread faster
The Philippines will shut its borders to foreigners arriving from 20 countries and territories in a bid to prevent a new variant of coronavirus entering the nation, officials said on Tuesday.
The ban on travellers from places including Australia, France, Japan and Hong Kong comes as the archipelago braces for a post-Christmas surge in the virus that has infected nearly half a million people.
Dozens of countries closed their borders to the Britain in recent weeks over rising cases of a variant that is believed to spread faster.
The Philippines -- which has not yet detected the new variant -- was among them, and in yesterday's announcement it extended the ban to January 15.
The measure takes effect from Wednesday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Foreigners have been largely banned from entering the country during the pandemic, but authorities recently started to allow entry to holders of certain types of visas.
Filipinos returning home from countries on the list will be allowed to enter, but will have to undergo 14-days quarantine even if they test negative for Covid-19, he added.
Meanwhile, after months of talks, the Philippines has approved an application for its first clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate -- developed by Johnson & Johnson's Belgian subsidiary Janssen -- the Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.
With more than 471,000 infections and 9,162 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest number of Covid-19 cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.