Travelers wearing facemasks collect their luggage on a plane after arriving at Tianhe airport in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 23, 2020. China banned trains and planes from leaving a major city at the centre of a virus outbreak on January 23, seeking to seal off its 11 million people to contain the contagious disease. AFP/Leo Ramirez

MANILA – The Philippines will relax travel curbs on foreigners coming from more than 30 countries that have detected cases of the more contagious British variant of the coronavirus starting from next month, the presidential spokesman said on Friday.

The move covers foreigners previously allowed to enter the Philippines, including those holding work visas and spouses of Filipinos, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement, adding that tourists would remain banned.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last year barred foreigners coming or transiting from countries with confirmed cases of the British coronavirus variant.

The list, which includes the United States, China, Japan and Australia, has expanded to more than 30 countries, and the ban is due to be in effect until the end of January.

The Philippines this week confirmed domestic transmission of the British variant, which has infected 17 so far, including a dozen in a mountainous northern province. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies)