May 3, 2020 / 6:26 AM / a month ago

Philippines temporarily bars incoming flights to decongest quarantine facilities

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines barred incoming passenger flights from Sunday morning for one week to contain the spread of the coronavirus and help reduce pressure on quarantine facilities housing thousands of Filipino repatriates, officials said on Sunday.

“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 care of when they arrive from abroad”, the task force said in a statement.

The Philippines introduced curbs on immigration, travel, commerce and public gatherings in mid-March, days after the first case of domestic transmission. Entry to the country is closed to all except repatriated Filipinos.

Around 20,000 repatriated Filipinos are undergoing mandatory quarantine in the capital, the task force said.

The temporary ban on incoming air travel covers nine international airports, including in the capital Manila. Cargo, sweeper, medical, utility and maintenance flights are exempted from the order, the aviation authority said.

Philippine airlines had already extended domestic and international passenger flights suspensions to mid-May.

The Philippines has reported 8,928 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and 603 deaths.

Reporting by Karen Lema; editing by Jane Wardell

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