Concerns over the new covid-19 variant Omicron are prompting the Philippines to temporarily suspend the decision to allow vaccinated international tourists into the country, informed the country’s immigration commissioner, Jaime Morente, on 29 November.
So far, however, no cases of the new variant have been confirmed in the Philippines.
On 19 November, the Philippine Ministry of Tourism announced that from 1 December onwards, the country would allow entry for vaccinated international tourists from most countries in an attempt to revive the country’s economy.
However, according to Jaime Morente, the Philippines’ covid-19 task force has now found it necessary to suspend the entry permit for foreign tourists “due to worldwide concerns about the Omicron variant,” Nordjyske writes citing news agency AFP.
The Philippines, known for its diving and thousands of tropical islands, last year saw an 83 percent drop in the number of foreign tourists.
The Philippines is among the Asian countries that introduced some of the strictest entry requirements during the pandemic. The country is also among the worst affected countries in the region in terms of numbers of infections, deaths, and economic losses. Just over a quarter of the Filipino population is vaccinated.
Monday’s announcement comes on the same day as the Philippines has launched a three-day vaccination campaign. The goal is for nine million people to be vaccinated during the three days.
According to a statement from Johns Hopkins University, just over 2.8 million cases of infection and a total of 48,361 corona-related deaths have been confirmed in the Philippines.
Almost 112 million people live in the Philippines.