MANILA - The Philippines would not yet ban travel from other countries with the new COVID-19 strain found in the UK unless there's community transmission there, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Sunday.
Beginning Dec. 24, Manila already suspended flights coming from the UK, where a new coronavirus strain has been detected. It was supposed to end on Dec. 31, but the government extended the ban for another 2 weeks.
It also imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for those who arrived before the ban was announced, covering as well travelers from nations that reported a case of the new COVID-19 variant.
"Bago mo i-consider ang isang bansa na iba-ban natin, kapag talagang meron na dung tinatawag nating community transmission. Kapag sila mismo 'di ma-control ang community transmission," Año told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Before you consider a travel ban on a country, it has to have community transmission, when they themselves can't control local transmission.)
Japan, France, Ireland, and Singapore are among countries that have reported cases of the new coronavirus strain, around a year since the SARS-CoV-2 that causes the COVID-19 is believed to have first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
The Philippine government has also yet to decide on imposing another lockdown, according to Año, who also serves as vice chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19.
"Di pa naman masasabi na magla-lockdown tayo kasi ako naman ay 'di rin ako sang-ayon na mag-lockdown tayo. Kailangan dito, bantayan natin ang border at ipatupad natin ang health protocols at wala namang laban ang virus na 'yan 'pag ikaw ay nag-iingat at naka-mask," Año said.
(We can't say that we'll go on lockdown because I also don't want this enforced. We just need to guard our borders and implement health protocols because the virus can't do anything if you're careful and wearing a face mask.)
"Pinakatalaga depensa natin dito, 'wag tayo mag-relax, sumunod tayo sa pag-uutos. Wala munang get-together, reunion, festivities…para sigurado na maitawid natin ito."
(Our defense against this is to not relax, and follow orders. Don't organize get-togethers, reunions, festivities… to ensure that we'll get through this.)
The Philippines as of Saturday reported 469,005 cases of COVID-19, with 28,883 active infections.