MANILA— The Department of Health on Monday assuaged concerns over the lifting of travel restrictions on 10 countries, including those with Delta variant cases, saying strict border control remains in place.
"Hindi po natin kailangan mag-alala dahil may mga safeguards po tayo," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.
(We don't have to worry because we have safeguards in place.)
"Hindi man natin ni-restrict ang isang bansa, meron po tayong strict border control kung saan lahat po ng mga dumadating na travelers ay nire-require nating mag-quarantine," she added.
(Even if we don't restrict a country, we have strict border control wherein all travelers are required to undergo quarantine.)
No one is exempted from quarantining even on humanitarian grounds, Vergeire said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the government's pandemic task force halting the travel restrictions starting Monday, Sept. 6.
The ban, which was first imposed in May and had been extended several times to ward off coronavirus variants, covers India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Vergeire noted that the COVID-19 situation in India, Indonesia and Malaysia had improved. These countries are now placed under "yellow list" or having moderate risk for coronavirus.
The task force adapted the guidelines of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in coming up with the recommendation, she said.
Vergeire said the task force also added another metric, such as the country's COVID-19 incidence rate, as CDC's parameters are "too strict".
Last week, the World Health Organization said the Philippines was experiencing community transmission of the Delta variant.
WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe had said more than 70 percent of the current transmission was linked to the Delta variant, which first emerged in India.
As of Sept. 3, the confirmed number of Delta variant cases in the Philippines stood at 2,068, of which, 51 are active.