Philippines hailed as Asia’s leading beach and dive destination

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 19, 2021   •   445

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has been hailed as ‘Asia’s Leading Beach Destination’ by the World Travel Awards 2021.

The other nominees are India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The country also bested other contenders for Asia’s Leading Dive Destination, leading against Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat welcomed the said recognition and expressed her gratitude towards the government and the citizens who continue to promote the country’s tourist attractions.

“We share this recognition with our tourism stakeholders, local government units, partner agencies, and all Filipinos who have been helping us promote our country’s attractions, products, and culture,” she said.

This is the fifth time the country has been recognized as Asia’s Leading Beach Destination, and the third time as Asia’s Leading Dive Destination. AAC

Still no case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in PH – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – There is still no case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in the Philippines in the latest whole genome sequencing run, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOH said that the genome sequencing conducted on Wednesday by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) on 48 samples did not detect the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant.

Of the 48 samples sequenced, 38 (79.17%) were Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases; the rest had non-VOC (variant of concern) lineages or had no lineages detected, the DOH added.

The latest sequencing run was composed of 12 returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) and 36 local cases from areas with high-risk average daily attack rates and case clusters.

“Of the additional 38 Delta variant cases, 31 were local cases and seven were ROFs,” the agency said.

“Two ROFs had travel histories from Turkey and one ROF each from Jordan, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, and Peru,” it added.

The DOH disclosed that of the 31 local cases, six had indicated addresses in Cagayan Valley Region, while five cases were from the Cordillera Administrative Region, three cases each from MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas, SOCCSKSARGEN, and the National Capital Region, two cases each from Central Luzon and CALABARZON, and one case from Davao Region.

“Based on the case line list, one local case is still active, 27 local and all seven ROF cases have been tagged as recovered, and three local cases are currently being verified as to their outcomes,” it said.

“All other details are being validated by the regional and local health offices,” it added.

The additional cases of Delta variant in the country bring the total tally to 7,886.

The DOH said that additional ROF and local cases from areas with increases or clustering will be prioritized for sequencing once these samples have been received by UP-PGC.

The agency added that it is currently coordinating with COVID-19 testing laboratories to expedite transport of these samples.

The DOH reminded the public that the best defense against COVID-19 and its variants is by adhering to the minimum public health standards.

“Everyone should continue to properly wear a face mask, wash their hands often, observe physical distancing, and ensure proper ventilation. Moreover, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps prevent severe disease and death,” it said.

“LGUs are urged to continuously conduct active case finding and immediately investigate clustering of cases to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the communities,” it added.

Over 1 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shots arrive in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Another batch of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine procured by the government arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday night.

The shipment, containing  1,082,250 vaccine doses, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 at past 8 p.m.

The said vaccine supply is expected to be used in the second round of nationwide vaccination drive set from December 15 to 17.

The government aims to vaccinate up to seven million people during this period.

With the arrival of the latest shipment of vaccines, the Philippines has now received around 150 million doses of various vaccine brands since February.

Philippines adds France to COVID-19 ‘red list’

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Wednesday placed France on the Philippines’ red list or countries that are high risk for COVID-19, Malacañang said.

In a statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the escalation of France to the Red list is effective 12:01 a.m. of December 10 to 15.

Travelers who have been to France within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, and who will arrive on December 10 to 12, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with an RT-PCR test on the 7th day, with day one being the date of arrival.

“Notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result, the completion of the 14-day quarantine is required,” Nograles said.

Beginning 12:01 a.m. of December 13 until December 15, entry in any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed for passengers coming from or who have been to France within the last 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines, regardless of vaccination status.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation, and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry, subject to existing testing and quarantine protocols for Red List countries/territories/jurisdictions.

“As with all international inbound travel, the testing and quarantine protocols for minors shall follow the testing and quarantine protocols of the parent/guardian traveling with them, regardless of the minor’s vaccination status,” Nograles said.

“This notwithstanding, children 3 years old and below, regardless of country of origin, shall be exempt from the requirement of presenting a negative RT-PCR test result before boarding the flight, unless symptomatic,” he added.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Palace official said that passengers who arrived prior to December 10, 2021 and are currently undergoing quarantine shall complete the testing and quarantine protocols in effect at the time of their arrival.

All passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through France shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to said country if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, they shall comply with the applicable testing and quarantine protocols for passengers who have not been to any Red List country/territory/jurisdiction.

The updated Red List comes amid the looming threat of newly discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant.

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