Philippines suspends plan to let in fully vaccinated tourists
MANILA The Philippines has suspended a decision to let in fully vaccinated tourists to prevent the Omicron Covid-19 variant from taking off in the country where most of the population remains unvaccinated.
Yesterday, the country also launched a three-day vaccination drive targeting nine million people as young as 12 years old in an effort to accelerate the roll-out of jabs.
So far, the country has not reported any cases of the Omicron strain.
Manila announced plans last week to allow fully vaccinated tourists from most countries to enter from Dec 1, as it seeks to revive a battered economy.
But the government's Covid-19 task force reversed course over the weekend as it announced the suspension of flights from seven European countries, in addition to an earlier ban on arrivals from several African nations.
The decision is a major blow to tourism, which has been devastated by a plunge in international visitor arrivals and restrictions on domestic travel since borders shut in March last year.
Tourism is a major driver of the country's economy, accounting for nearly 13 per cent of gross domestic product in 2019, when more than eight million people visited, official data shows. - AFP