MANILA, Philippines — With only one insurance company willing to offer a package for travel risks related to COVID-19, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has again suspended non-essential trips abroad.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the IATF made the decision through Resolution No. 57. “This is why the IATF temporarily suspended non-essential outbound travel,” Roque said at a virtual press briefing yesterday.
He did not name the lone insurance company which showed willingness to offer policy for COVID-related risks.
The IATF’s announcement came on the heels of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s ordering a probe on reports that a “lower ranking official” of the department was taking advantage of foreign nationals returning to the Philippines.
The Palace did not say if Duque’s order had influenced the IATF decision.
Earlier, IATF decided to allow business and leisure travel for Filipinos provided they have the appropriate travel and health insurance to cover rebooking and accommodation expenses, and hospitalization, if needed.
The task force also allowed foreigners with permanent resident visas to return to the country.
The travel ban began on March 15 or at the start of the Luzon-wide community lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Only overseas Filipino workers with existing contracts, as well as permanent residents abroad, were among those allowed to leave the country.
Adjustments in community quarantine status have been made based on the number of COVID-19 cases in specific areas.
Under IATF Resolution No. 57, travelers are required to acknowledge – in the declaration form issued by the Bureau of Immigration – the risks involved in travelling, including possible delay in their return trip.
Upon their return, Filipino travelers shall follow the guidelines issued by the IATF, including mandatory quarantine.
It added that those with confirmed bookings as of July 20 this year shall be allowed outbound travel subject to IATF Resolution No. 52, dated July 6, which outlines requirements that include the health declaration, testing and travel insurance.
“Essential travel of Filipinos leaving for abroad for business and work, medical, emergency and other humanitarian reasons, and which cannot be postponed, may also be allowed subject to presentation of sufficient supporting documents,” the IATF said.
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