PH won't ban flights from countries with no community transmission of new coronavirus variant

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 26) — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases did not recommend imposing a travel restriction on other countries aside from the United Kingdom that reported the presence of the new coronavirus variant.

During an IATF meeting on Saturday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told President Rodrigo Duterte that they will only consider a travel ban if there is community transmission recorded in the traveler’s country of origin.

“Ikonsidera lamang ang travel ban kung nasa lebel na ng community transmission ang new variant sa naturang bansa,” Duque said.

[Translation: A travel ban will only be considered if the new variant is already on the level of community transmission in a specific country.]

Dr. Socorro Escalante, World Health Organization representative in the Philippines, also did not recommend a travel restriction to Duterte and the IATF.

According to Escalante, a travel ban is not warranted unless community transmission is recorded. She added that the government should continually work on strong public health interventions to prepare for the new variant.

Duterte also approved on Saturday the extension of ban on flights from the UK for two more weeks after Dec. 31.

The temporary ban was ordered due to the perceived threat from a new coronavirus variant first detected in the European country.

The President also approved the IATF’s recommendation of implementing strict mandatory quarantine for travelers coming from countries that reported the new coronavirus variant. The travelers will complete the 14-day quarantine regardless of the RT-PCR test results.