Manila tightening border

THE Philippines is tightening its border after the first case of a variant of the coronavirus, which is more transmissible, was detected in the country, health officials said.

All travellers from the United Arab Emirates will be banned as the first case is a man who returned from Dubai earlier this month.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who yesterday told reporters he had no doubt that President Roderigo Duterte would approve the move, said the government would also consider requiring all inbound travellers, regardless of where they came from, to undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine.

The Philippines has already banned travellers from at least 30 nations and territories – including the United States, China, Britain and Singapore – till today to prevent the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

The tighter border controls came as regulators announced that they had approved the application by Pfizer for emergency use of its vaccine in the Philippines.

They added that China’s Sinovac had finally applied for emergency use authorisation of its vaccine.

Pfizer has promised to supply the country with 25 million to 40 million doses of its vaccine, which is 95% effective against Covid-19.

However, the company has not given a firm commitment on when it will ship the doses to the Philippines.

Instead, the Philippines is expecting to receive next month some 50,000 out of a promised 25 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine.

The Philippines has had difficulties convincing the public to use vaccines in recent years and an opinion poll last week showed that less than a third of people were willing to get inoculated due to concerns over safety.

The Philippines has trailed regional peers in securing vaccines, with which it hopes this year to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of its population. — The Straits Times/ANN/Reuters

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