The country has temporarily suspended the entry of foreigners and returning overseas Filipinos who are not considered overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from March 20 to April 19, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the measure was meant to address the rising Covid-19 cases and the entry of the coronavirus variants in the country.

Roque himself had tested positive for Covid-19.

Exempted from the temporary ban are holders of 9 (e) visas and medical repatriation teams and their escorts duly endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Also exempted are distressed returning overseas Filipinos and emergency, humanitarian and other cases as approved by the National Task Force Against Covid-19.

The number of inbound international passengers will also be limited to 1,500 a day.

The country has recorded 635,698 Covid-19 cases as of March 17.

Several Covid-19 variants have been detected in the country: the UK variant, South African variant, Brazil variant and the P.3 variant, which was first recorded in the Philippines. John Ezekiel J. Hirro