BI sees tighter restrictions with China’s COVID surge
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Sunday assured the public that its officers at the different airports and seaports are ready to implement possible travel restrictions for passengers flying in from China.
This came following reports of another COVID-19 surge in China, prompting countries to consider once again implementing travel bans.
“While we have not received any directive yet about it, we are ready at any time to implement any such measures that the government deems appropriate to prevent another surge in the Philippines,” said Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco, adding that it would take its cue from the Department of Health, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the Office of the President on implementing travel restrictions.
It can be recalled that at the height of the pandemic, the BI implemented country-specific travel bans to prevent the entry of certain COVID-19 variants.
The BI also reported that around 30,002 Chinese tourists have entered the country in 2022.
The number is only 0.48 percent of the BI’s total recorded arrivals of more than 6.1 million travelers in 2022.
“Chinese nationals used to take the second highest spot in the number of arrivals in the country, next to South Koreans,” Tansingco said.
“But during the pandemic, due to travel bans both here and in their home country, the number has drastically dropped,” he added.
Among the countries imposing mandatory COVID-19 tests for China arrivals beginning Jan. 5 are the United Kingdom, France, Australia, India, Canada, Japan, Italy, Spain, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and Morocco.
Meanwhile, the immigration bureau said the 6,125,841 arrivals in 2022 were already a major leap from the last two years.
Prior to the pandemic, the BI reported a whopping 17 million arrivals in 2019.
“While we are not yet seeing prepandemic figures, the increase is already evident. We share the optimism of the tourism department that travel is on the rebound and we will expect more tourists in the following months,” Tansingco said.
Of the recorded arrivals, 3.6 million were Filipinos.
The top travelers to the country were passengers from the United States with 687,135 arrivals, South Korea with 448,491 arrivals, Australia with 152,476 arrivals, Canada with 141,578 arrivals and Japan with 123,011 arrivals. INQ
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