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Philippines temporarily bars incoming international passenger flights

DPA
Manila
The Philippines on Sunday temporarily barred all incoming international passenger flights to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country and to free up quarantine facilities amid a surge in returning overseas workers.
The restrictions will be in place for one week at all nine international airports in the country, according to a task force implementing the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Cargo, sweeper, medical, utility and maintenance flights are exempted from the order.
“This decision is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people by preventing the further spread of COVID-19 and also ensure that our overseas Filipino workers are well taken cared of when they arrive from abroad,” said Carlito Galvez, chief of the task force.
“The new flight restriction is only temporary and will be implemented for one week to give the government the opportunity to decongest the quarantine facilities in Metro Manila,” he added.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, more than 24,000 overseas Filipino workers have returned to the country since the global pandemic began. More are awaiting repatriation flights, which will be adjusted with the new directive.
“Overseas Filipino workers will remain where they are in the meantime,” said department spokesman Eduardo Menez.
“For those who may already be at airports, they will be assisted as best possible under the circumstances.”
There were 9,223 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of Sunday, including 607 deaths, according to the Department of Health.
The Philippine government has imposed restrictions on travel, commerce and public gatherings since mid-March.
Some restrictions have been eased in low-risk areas, allowing malls and public transport to operate at a reduced capacity.
Mass gatherings are still not allowed, including religious activities. In some areas, people without authority or clearances to leave their homes have been arrested.

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