The Philippine government has expanded its travel ban to include Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a bid to prevent the spread of a double-mutant version of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) which was first discovered in India.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said the imposition of the travel ban on Oman and the UAE will take effect starting 12:01 a.m. of May 15 until 11:59 p.m. of May. 31.

“All travelers coming from Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or those with travel history to these two countries within the last 14 days preceding arrival shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines,” he said in a statement.

Passengers who are set to arrive from these two countries before May 15 would not be barred from entering Metro Manila, but they must complete a 14-day quarantine in an accredited facility.

Mr. Roque said the Philippines also extended the ban on travelers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka until the end of the month.

Meanwhile, more than 544,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the coronavirus pandemic have been repatriated by the Philippine government.

International Labor Affairs Bureau Director Alice Q. Visperas said during a televised news briefing that about 49,000 OFWs are set to return to the country. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza