MANILA — Malacañang said on Tuesday it would prod the Department of Transportation over a possible ban on travelers from the United Kingdom where scientists have identified a new variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, more established variants.
Initial studies of the new variant prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten restrictions over Christmas, and spurred officials in the Netherlands, Germany and other European countries to ban travel from the UK.
"Kakalampagin po natin ang DOTr because that's within their jurisdiction," said President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque.
"Sa ngayon naman po, basta sumunod po sa ating protocol bago lumabas ang PCR test, tingin ko, safe naman po tayo. Pero tama kayo, panahon na para ikunsidera iyang temporary travel ban sa UK," Roque told reporters.
(We will prod the DOTr because that's within their jurisdiction. For now, as long as we follow protocols before the result of the PCR test is released, I think we are safe. But you are right, it's time to consider a temporary travel ban on UK.)
Roque urged the public to heed the advice of the World Health Organization cautioning against major alarm over the coronavirus variant.
The Philippines recently allowed the entry of foreign investors, and the partners and children of Filipinos.
The task force leading the country's COVID-19 response also allowed foreign nationals with visas who will leave the Philippines starting Dec. 17, to reenter the country as long as their visas remained valid on the day of their arrival.
They should also have a pre-booked quarantine facility, and a pre-booked COVID-19 testing at an airport laboratory.
With a report from The New York Times
Video courtesy of PTV
The Philippines, as of Dec. 21, has recorded a total of 461,505 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 23,341 active infections, 8,957 deaths, and 429,207 recoveries.