(Update 1: Adds information from Japan, South Korea, minor edits throughout, changes slug, headline, lede)
Bangkok Desk, Dec 23 (efe-epa).- The Philippines, Japan and South Korea announced on Wednesday new restrictions on inbound flights from the United Kingdom in order to prevent the spread of a new Covid-19 variant.
In the Philippines, all flights from the UK will be suspended from Thursday until Dec. 31, said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
“All passengers who have been in the UK within fourteen days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines, including those merely in transit, are also temporarily restricted from entering the country for the same period,” the Philippine official said in a statement.
Those passengers due to arrive before Thursday will be able to enter the Philippines, but are required to observe stricter quarantine measures and testing protocols.
In Japan, the entry of passengers from the UK as well as from a long list of countries around the world has been prohibited for months, with the exception of business travelers, Japanese citizens and foreign residents.
The authorities have now decided to ban the entry of all passengers arriving from the UK from Thursday.
However, the return of Japanese and foreign residents who have made trips of less than a week to the UK will be accepted, with the obligation to undergo a 14-day quarantine, in addition to two PCR tests before and after flying – more stringent requirements than those currently in force.
Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said a press conference that so far no case of infection with the new strain of the virus has been detected in Japan.
Meanwhile, South Korea is to suspend all flights from the UK from Wednesday until Dec. 31.
In addition, health authorities will quarantine all travelers on international flights who have previously passed through the UK to a 14-day quarantine period, in addition to carrying out an additional test for the virus at the end of isolation.
The restrictions of the Asian countries add to those of around 50 other nations trying to stop the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus.
On Dec. 14, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that a “new variant” of SARS-CoV-2 had been identified in the European country.
The new variant is 70 percent more contagious than others and has been responsible for a surge in cases in the United Kingdom, according to experts, although for now it is not considered more virulent or immune to the vaccines that are being distributed. EFE-EPA