By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (File photo)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – Travel restrictions would be considered as soon as a country reports community transmission of the new variant of SARS-COV-2, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday.
The DOH clarified that the ban can be considered only when transmission of the new variant is at the community level in the originating country.
“Please note the recommendations presented refer to countries/areas apart from the UK that have and will report the UK new variant,” the DOH said in an advisory. The UK has reported a new variant of the SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019.
In the meantime, it said a strict mandatory 14-day quarantine would be imposed for travelers coming from countries that initially reported the new variant, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Japan.
“Per our experts, as more and more countries report the detection of UK new variant, travel restrictions will be unsustainable. So we will mandate the 14-day quarantine regardless of test results. And part of which is increasing our capacities for bio/genomic surveillance,” it said.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday night extended for another two weeks the travel ban for flights coming from the UK. Initially, the travel ban began last Dec. 24 and was supposed to end on Dec. 31.
Duterte made the decision upon the recommendation of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and infectious diseases experts.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant strain has been predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2. (PNA)