Philippines: no travel ban yet versus countries with new virus strain

Duterte sits with his Cabinet members.

The Philippine government was not keen on imposing a travel ban on other countries despite the more deadly strain of coronavirus, a Cabinet official said.

In a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend, Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said that he would only consider a travel restriction against more countries once the new strain was proven to have officially entered and already at the level of community transmission.

Duque was referring to countries with confirmed cases of the new variant, not just the United Kingdom where it originated from.

The Philippine government initially restricted travel from and to the UK between December 24 and 31 in a bid to keep the virus outbreak at bay until Duterte later approved a recommendation to extend the ban for two more weeks.

Few days before Christmas, the UK confirmed that a second new and potentially more infectious variant of the virus identified in South Africa has emerged. It was believed to be 70% more infectious than the original variant which originated from China.

Several countries have already imposed a travel ban on the UK, including Canada, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, and Germany, to prevent the entry of the new strain.

As of press time, countries with confirmed cases of the new virus included Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, and South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia, among others.

Duque said that the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease would revisit the directive on the suspension of flights before it lapses and the new risk classification of different areas in the country.

Duterte was set to announce new quarantine restrictions today, December 28.

The Health chief likewise recommended that all inbound travellers from countries with the new variant should complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine.