MANILA — The Department of Health on Wednesday reminded the public that even Filipinos coming from India cannot enter the Philippines.
“Sa ngayon parang napagdesisyunan that even our fellow Filipinos hindi muna natin papapasukin for this temporary period na sinasabing 14 araw o 2 linggo,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
(For now it was decided that even our fellow Filipinos won’t be allowed into the country for this temporary period of 14 days or 2 weeks.)
Vergeire said this a day after Malacañang announced that all travelers from India or those with travel history to India within 14 days before arrival will not be allowed inside the Philippines from April 29 to May 14.
This is due to the variant under investigation that was first detected in India and has spawned a deadly surge.
“This is just so we can be able to ensure na ma-guard natin 'yung borders natin. Lahat po 'yan ita-transmit as advisory especially for fellow Filipinos who would wish to go home coming from this country,” Vergeire added.
(This is just so we can be able to ensure that we can guard our borders. This advisory will be transmitted especially for fellow Filipinos who would wish to go home coming from this country.)
The DOH previously said that it has not yet detected the so-called Indian variant in the Philippines.
The World Health Organization said that the variant, which has mutations in its spike protein, has already been detected in 17 countries.
The mutations in the variant are said to possibly make it easier for the virus to gain entry in the human body and multiply faster.
Vergeire explained though that the surge in cases in India is not due to the so-called "double mutant" variant.
“They also have the UK variant at ito ang mas mataas ang porsyento na meron sila sa kanilang bansa,” she said.
(They also have the UK variant and this one has the largest percentage of cases in that country.)
Despite this, she said it’s important for everyone to be careful and prevent the spread of more variants.
“Nevertheless of course our country would like to restrict its borders first. Mag-iingat tayo kasi nakikita na natin nangyayari sa kanila (We have to be careful because we’ve seen what has happened in India),” she said.
Due to the large number of cases and deaths being recorded in India, the country had to do mass cremations. It has also logged record-high figures, with 350,000 new cases reported on Tuesday alone.
Vergeire said the main lesson that the Philippines can learn from India is the need to follow the same health protocols in place since the start of the pandemic. On top of this is the need to be vaccinated.
But the country has been struggling to increase its number of people being vaccinated daily also due to the shortage of vaccines.
The global shortage is partly due to the rise in cases in India, which is home to some vaccine manufacturing plants.
“Because of what is happening in India they have stopped their commitments to other countries,” Vergeire explained.
She said the Philippine government’s vaccine cluster has already restrategized on how to more efficiently apportion the vaccines that are arriving in the Philippines.
The Philippines has been struggling with the increase in COVID-19 cases, partly caused by more transmissible variants such as those first detected in the United Kingdom and in South Africa.
Just this week, the Philippines became the 26th country to log a total of 1 million COVID-19 cases.