Philippines 'closely monitoring' more contagious variant in US


Posted at Dec 30 2020 04:57 PM

Palace yet to include US in travel ban 

Philippines 'closely monitoring' more contagious variant in US 1
Gabriel Cervera and a team of healthcare workers treat a patient infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, US, Dec. 29, 2020. Callaghan O'Hare, Reuters

MANILA — The Philippines is "closely monitoring" the COVID-19 situation in the US which detected a new, more contagious coronavirus variant, Malacañang said on Wednesday, even as it has yet to include its Western ally in its recently imposed travel ban. 

The US said it detected the highly infectious coronavirus variant in a Colorado man in his 20s with no travel history. The variant was first discovered in the UK. 

"We are closely monitoring the situation in the United States (US) regarding the new COVID-19 strain in Colorado" said Harry Roque, spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte and of the inter-agency task force (IATF) on infectious diseases.

"Concerned local officials are now studying this matter," he added.

The US' inclusion in a travel ban meant to halt the spread of the new variant will depend on the joint recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the health department, which chairs the IATF leading the country's pandemic response, said Roque. 

Duterte earlier suspended flights from the UK, and subsequently banned the entry of foreign travelers from 19 other territories that have recorded cases of the new coronavirus variant. 

With more than 472,000 infections and more than 9,200 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.

- With a report from Reuters 

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