DOH mulls travel ban on Malaysia, Thailand due to Delta COVID-19 variant

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2021 06:26 PM

DOH mulls travel ban on Malaysia, Thailand due to Delta COVID-19 variant 1
Overseas Filipino workers arrive at the lobby of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on July 1, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA — The Department of Health said on Thursday it was studying the possible inclusion of Malaysia and Thailand in a travel ban aimed at keeping out the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant spreading in Southeast Asia. 

The Philippines has suspended entry of travelers from 7 countries to ward off the Delta variant at least until the end of the month. The travel curb will include Indonesia starting July 16. 

"Mayroon ding nagsasabi ang Malaysia [bakit hindi kasama]... Pinag-aaralan na rin po ‘yan ng mga epidemiology bureau ng DOH. At possible na magbigay rekomendasyon para sa IATF kung hahabaan ba ang listahan ng travel ban sa mga bansa," said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. 

(Some say why is Malaysia not included. The epidemiology bureau of DOH is studying that. And we could submit a recommendation to the IATF if the list of countries under the travel ban should be expanded.) 

"Tinitingnan din natin ang Thailand," he said in a televised public briefing. 

(We are also looking at Thailand.) 

Both countries are grappling with a surge in coronavirus infections driven by the Delta variant.

Thailand is suffering its worst COVID-19 outbreak yet and reported a record 98 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, taking total fatalities to 3,032 since the pandemic began last year.

It also reported 9,186 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 372,215.

Malaysia meanwhile reported 13,215 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record for a third straight day, which brought its total reported infections to 880,782.

The Philippines has not yet detected community transmission of the Delta variant, which it has so far monitored among 19 travelers from abroad. 

The country's quarantine facilities remain sufficient, said Duque. 

"Just in case na makapasok [ang Delta variant], at least handa tayo," he said. 

The Philippines exempts repatriation efforts from its travel ban.

— With a report from Reuters 

Video courtesy of PTV