Gov't urged to extend travel ban to prevent entry of new COVID-19 variant


Posted at Jan 13 2021 08:35 AM | Updated as of Jan 13 2021 08:41 AM

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 lies mostly empty on December 23, 2020, two days before Christmas. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A research team on Wednesday urged government to extend for 2 weeks the country's travel restrictions on nations with reported cases of a new and more contagious COVID-19 variant.

The Philippines on Tuesday included China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman in the list of countries whose travelers are prohibited from entering the country. The travel ban is effective until Friday.

OCTA Research Group fellow Guido David said the Philippines must enforce strict border control, and monitoring and quarantine of travelers.

"Nirerecommend talaga nating i-extend 'yan...Posibleng nakapasok na dito. Kung nakapasok na, posibleng hindi ganun karami 'yung cases natin ng bagong variant dahil baka nacontrol naman natin 'yung pagpasok," David told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We recommend to extend it...The new variant may have already entered. If it has, there may not be many cases because we might have controlled its entry.)

"Pero kung binuksan natin ulit 'yan habang di pa natin alam kung nandito na 'yung variant or not pwedeng magkaroon ng spike talaga 'yan kung di careful."

(But if we open our borders while we don't yet know if it has entered, there might be a spike if we're not careful.)

The Department of Health earlier said it has yet to detect a case of the new COVID-19 variant in the Philippines.

Meantime, coronavirus cases over the holidays should manifest itself "within the next week," according to David. The country's testing was reduced to 40 percent as laboratories were closed during Christmas season, he said.

"Slowly nakukukuha na natin ang mga nagpositive during the holidays pero di pa siguro lahat-lahat. Ang nakikita nating average number niyan almost 2,000 cases per day na natatala natin," he said.

(Slowly we're getting the number of those who turned out positive during the holidays but maybe not yet all. We forecast an average of almost 2,000 cases per day.)

The possible spike in COVID-19 cases due to the Feast of the Black Nazarene is expected after a week, David said.

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