PH mulls travel ban on India over new COVID-19 variant

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 26) — The Philippine government has yet to decide if it will impose a ban on flights from India over a new COVID-19 variant first detected in the South Asian country.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said DOH has previously met with the Department of Foreign Affairs to discuss the matter, but no decision has been made yet.

She added that the task force on COVID-19 variants are studying the B.1.617 coronavirus variant, which has a number of mutations that could increase transmissibility and help escape immune response.

"They are waiting for the recommendation of DOH, together with our experts," Vergeire said.

The health official assured the Philippines has not yet recorded a case of the India variant based on the genomic sequencing of over 5,000 samples.

India reported nearly 350,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the fourth day in a row the country has set a world record for daily infections during the coronavirus pandemic. The country also reported its highest daily death toll for the ninth consecutive day, adding 2,767 fatalities in the past 24 hours.

The Philippines has hundreds of confirmed cases of the more transmissible variants that were first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and one under investigation that originated in the Philippines.