MANILA: The Philippines barred all passenger flights to and from the country from Sunday (May 3) 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.
Cargo, medical, utility and maintenance flights are exempted from the order.
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.
Philippine airlines had already extended domestic and international passenger flights suspensions to mid-May.
As of Sunday, the Philippines has reported 9,223 cases of COVID-19 and 607 deaths.