Increased scrutiny for FLiRT variants in screening

The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) has implemented stricter measures in screening tourists and balikbayans arriving from countries where new COVID-19 variants have been detected.

In Memorandum 2024-48, BOQ director Ferdinand Salcedo directed all BOQ stations to carefully screen incoming travelers following reports of the KP.2 and KP.3 variants of COVID-19 spreading globally. These variants are part of a new subvariant called “FLiRT,” which originated from the JN.1 subvariant discovered in late 2023.

To ensure thorough screening, all stations have been instructed to screen visitors from countries where COVID FLiRT incidents have been reported. Travelers are reminded to fill out the e-travel application before entering the country.

Heightened alert measures have been implemented at all terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other major airports and seaports in the country to ensure stringent screening of passengers from countries with COVID FLiRT incidents.

MIAA general manager Eric Jose Ines stated that necessary screening procedures and equipment are in place to safeguard the safety of passengers and the public. Housekeeping service providers have been directed to disinfect high-exposure areas, while food concessionaires are reminded to sanitize dining areas.

The public is advised to adhere to minimum public health standards, practice hygiene measures, and stay home if feeling unwell. Home isolation is recommended for individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Health experts have emphasized the importance of vigilance and protection, especially for vulnerable populations, against the virus.

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