DOH: More studies needed before putting UK on red travel list amid Delta subvariant worry

Job Manahan and Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2021 05:37 PM

Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) arrive at the lobby of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on July 01, 2021. Effective July 1, travelers who were fully vaccinated in
Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) arrive at the lobby of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on July 01, 2021. Effective July 1, travelers who were fully vaccinated in "green" countries or those with low COVID-19 risk would be allowed to shorten their facility quarantine to 7 days, from the previous 10 days. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA—The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said its officials are looking into placing the United Kingdom on the red travel list after detecting a subvariant of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant. 

In a public briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said authorities assess different countries' travel classification weekly.

Experts have yet to identify the health impacts of the AY 4.2. variant, which has already turned up in some European countries, including the United Kingdom. 

"Sa ngayon kasama po ’yan sa pinag-aaralan natin pati po sa mga bansang tumataas ang mga kaso ngayon," Vergeire explained.

(For now, we are studying this, as well as the pandemic situation in other countries)

"Magre-report po tayo sa IATF regarding this at pag-uusapan kung kailangan natin stricter control ng border natin for these countries. Kailangan natin pag-aralan maigi kasi hindi pa nga po variant of concern ito. Ito po ay pinag-aaralan pa rin," she added.

(We will report this to the IATF and we will talk whether we need to implement stricter border control for these countries. We need to study this carefully though because this is not a variant of concern) 

The AY 4.2. variant has yet to be classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern or variant of interest. It has also yet to be detected locally. 

Studies showed, however, that this sublineage is 10 percent more transmissible than the highly contagious Delta variant, she said. 

"Pero hindi po kumpleto ang ebidensya, kaya kailangan pong mag-antabay tayo for further na pag-aaral. Ituloy po natin ang pagpo-protekta sa ating sarili," according to Vergeire. 

(The evidence is still lacking so we need to wait for further studies. Let us protect ourselves more.)

“Hindi kailangan mag-panic. Patuloy lang ipatupad ang minimum public health standards dahil kahit anong merong variant naman, epektibo pa rin po itong mga ginagawa nating mga paraan dito sa ating bansa,” she said. 

(We don't need to panic, we just have to implement minimum public health standards because whatever variant we have can be stopped through theses standards)

The UK is currently part of the country's yellow list, which means that their COVID-19 cases remained moderate risk. 

Aside from the European country, Philippine authorities are also 
monitoring other nations or territories with high COVID-19 cases. 

The countries under the red list are considered high risk based on the following metrics:

  •  For populations numbering more than 100,000 the incidence rate shall be more than 500.
  •  For populations numbering fewer than 100,000, the COVID-19 case counts shall be more than 500.

The countries' testing rate, meanwhile, will also be assessed based on their testing data in the last 28 days per 100,000 population.