Palace considers UK travel ban amid new COVID-19 variant
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is convinced it is time to consider a temporary ban on travelers from the United Kingdom amid reports of a new coronavirus variant that is believed to be more infectious.
In a televised Palace press briefing Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said they will ask the Department of Transportation (DOTr) regarding its position on the proposed travel ban.
“Panahon na para ikonsidera iyang temporary travel ban sa UK. Bagamat (dapat) pakinggan din po natin ang sinabi ng WHO (World Health Organization) na hindi naman dapat ikabahala iyan dahil ganyan talaga iyong progression ng mga viruses. Pero dapat mag-ingat pa rin,” Roque said.
(It is time to consider a temporary travel ban in the UK. Although we should also listen to what the WHO said, that we should not worry about that because that is exactly how the progression of viruses works. But still, we need to be careful.)
“So kakalampagin po natin ang DOTr,” he added.
(So we will prod the DOTr regarding this.)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced stricter restrictions in his country after experts found a more infectious variant of coronavirus, which, he said, “may be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the earlier strain.”
Almost immediately, several countries imposed a travel ban on the United Kingdom, including Canada, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, and Germany.
The Department of Health (DOH) said it has yet to detect the new COVID-19 agent in the Philippines but said that it would ramp up surveillance against the circulating variant.
Aside from returning overseas Filipinos, only foreigners with investor’s visas and those with permanent residence in the Philippines are allowed entry in the country.
Foreigners with valid and existing visas who left the Philippines from Dec. 17 onwards may also be permitted to return to the country subject certain conditions set by the Bureau of Immigration.
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