Duque: Travel ban eyed vs other countries with community transmission of new virus variant
MANILA, Philippines — A travel ban on other countries would only be considered once there is already a community transmission of the new coronavirus variant there, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Saturday.
This comes amid reports that the new SARS-CoV-2 strain first detected in the United Kingdom (UK) has already arrived in countries such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia.
“Ikunsidera lamang ang travel ban, Mr. President kung nasa lebel na ng community transmission ang new variant sa naturang bansa (UK),” Duque said in a meeting with President Duterte and members of the Cabinet.
(We just consider the travel ban, Mr. President, if the new variant in that country is already at the level of community transmission.)
Duque’s office clarified that the DOH chief was referring to countries with the reported cases of the new variant, not just in the UK.
The new SARS-CoV-2 strain is believed to be up to 70% more infectious than the original variant.
Several countries have already imposed a travel ban on the UK, including Canada, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, and Germany, to prevent the new strain’s entry.
The Philippines initially suspended flights from the UK from Dec. 24 until Dec. 31.
Later, President Rodrigo Duterte approved a recommendation to extend the UK travel ban for two more weeks.
Duque said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease will revisit the directive on the suspension of flights before it lapses and the new risk classification of different areas in the country.
The Health chief likewise recommended that travelers coming from countries confirmed to have the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.