US travelers banned from Philippines starting Sunday

The Philippines will ban travelers who were recently in the U.S. starting on Sunday after a third state confirmed a COVID-19 case with the new strain that experts say is more contagious. 

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said that foreigners who have been to the U.S. in the past 14 days will be denied entry to the country, according to a statement obtained by Reuters

The travel ban, which added to other restrictions announced for 19 countries and territories on Tuesday, is slated to last until Jan. 15. Travelers from the U.S. who arrive before Jan. 3 can come into the country as long as they quarantine for 14 days.

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The Philippines decided to add the U.S. to the list after the country’s health and foreign affairs department suggested doing so, Roque said, according to Reuters. 

Filipinos who are returning from the U.S. will not be banned from entering the country, but will also have to do a 14-day quarantine in a government facility.

The new strain of the virus, called B.1.1.7, was first located in the U.K. but has since spread to several other countries, including the U.S. 

Florida became the third state to confirm a case with the new variant on New Year’s Eve, with Colorado and California previously announcing cases earlier this week

Health experts have said they believe the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are effective against the variant, but more trials are needed to confirm that. 

The strain has not yet made its way to the Philippines, which has recorded more than 475,000 COVID-19 cases and 9,248 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.