The Philippines expanded its temporary ban on entry for some foreign travelers on Friday to include people coming from the United States, acting after Florida became the third U.S. state to identify an infection with the new, highly contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in Britain.
The Florida Department of Health announced on Thursday that a man in his 20s, located in Martin County, was the state’s first identified case of the variant. The man has no history of travel, officials said in a statement on Twitter.
Other cases of the variant have been identified this week in Colorado and California, and patients in those cases also did not report traveling outside of the U.S. The variant, known as B.1.1.7., has not been known to lead to more severe cases of Covid-19, but it has been found to be more transmissible than previous forms of the virus.
This could portend more infections where it circulates, and more hospitalizations, at a time when the United States, Britain and many other countries are already battling surges in caseloads and anticipating more from holiday gatherings and travel amid the pandemic.
Many countries have already restricted travel from the United States because of its staggering number of infections, the most in the world. And many countries around the world have restricted travel from Britain since the new variant was discovered there. Some are also imposing restrictions on travelers, including U.S. citizens, who in recent weeks visited Britain or other countries where the variant has been detected.
On Tuesday, the Philippines said that it would restrict entry for people who have traveled to 18 countries and Hong Kong, after earlier temporarily suspending the entry of visitors coming from Britain.
Harry Roque, a spokesman for the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, said in a statement that any travelers who have been to the United States within 14 days of arriving in the Philippines would not be allowed to enter the country starting on Sunday and running through Jan. 15.
Citizens of the Philippines will be granted entry, but they will be required to isolate at home for 14 days, even if they have proof of a negative coronavirus test.