South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe are no longer in the country's “green list” following Philippines’ temporary suspension of inbound flights from countries with local cases of the new COVID-19 variant of concern, Omicron.
Cabinet Secretary and acting Palace spokesperson Karlo Nograles made this clarification on Saturday, Nov. 27, as the country takes precautionary measures against the reportedly highly transmissible variant that is now found in five countries.
“This is to clarify that the Inter-Agency Task Force’s temporary suspension of inbound international flights from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe contained in IATF Resolution 150, supersedes the earlier Green List classification of the three abovementioned countries in IATF Resolution 148-A,” Nograles said in a statement.
Countries under the IATF’s “Green List” are classified by the Department of Health as low risk based on COVID-19 incidence rate and case count.
“Likewise, the temporary suspension of inbound international flights from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Estiwani and Mozambique shall take effect immediately and until 15 December 2021,” he added.
In the morning of Friday, Nov. 26, the Malacañang announced that nationals from non-visa required countries who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to enter the Philippines from Dec. 1 to 15, subject to conditions set by the IATF.
In the evening of the same day, the IATF approved the temporary ban on seven countries in southern Africa, effective immediately until Dec. 15. This came after scientists in South Africa detected the new COVID-19 variant with many mutations.
On Nov. 27, the World Health Organization declared the new strain, named Omicron, as “variant of concern.”
Several countries—including those in the European Union, the United States, Australia, Israel, and the United Kingdom—have already imposed temporary travel bans on some southern African nations.
The Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa, has now also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel.