MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet included China in travel restrictions because international authorities have yet to confirm the reported case of the new, more contagious COVID-19 variant in the Asian giant.
The expanded travel curbs that Duterte's office announced on Wednesday did not include China. Beijing recently reported that a 23-year-old woman who arrived from the United Kingdom tested positive for the new COVID-19 strain first detected in UK.
"Kasi hindi pa po 'yan nare-report ng mga international agencies na kumpirmado. Ang alam lang po natin ay media reports," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Kung meron namang confirmation, siyempre, isasali rin sila. As of now wala pang confirmation," he told reporters in an online briefing.
(That has not yet been reported by international agencies as confirmed. What we know are media reports. If there is a confirmation, of course they will be included. As of now, there is no confirmation yet.)
Video courtesy of PTV
Sen. Risa Hontiveros has questioned why China was excluded from the travel restrictions.
"Tigilan na ang kababalaghan. Bakit exempted ang China? Natatakot nanaman ba tayong masaktan ang damdamin nito? Unahin naman natin ang Pilipinas," Hontiveros said in a statement.
(Why is China exempted? Are we afraid again to hurt its feelings? Let’s put the Philippines first.)
"Lubos na nakakahawa ang new variant na ito. Huwag na nating hintayin na maghingalo pa ang ating mga ospital at mahirapan pa ang ating mga nars at doktor bago umaksyon," she added.
(This variant is highly contagious. Let us not wait for our hospitals to bog down, and for our nurses and doctors to have difficulties before we take action.)
The Philippines has not yet detected a case of the new COVID-19 variant, which British scientists have named "VUI – 202012/01."
The variant includes a genetic mutation in the "spike" protein, which could theoretically result in easier spread of COVID-19.
The Philippines has tallied some 480,000 coronavirus infections.