PH may include US in travel ban of nations with detection of COVID-19 variant
MANILA, Philippines — As it reported its first case of the COVID-19 variant, the United States may be included in the list of countries where a travel ban is imposed to prevent the transmission of the disease, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
“The policy is yes, isasama natin pansamantala [we will temporarily include this],” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in an online media forum.
“Remember, this is not permanent, this is only a temporary ban to give us time to assess our situation,” he added.
But DOH Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a message to reporters, later clarified “We will wait for the US to officially notify to the WHO IHR [World Health Organization International Health Regulations] or official announcement by their gov’t regarding this new strain identified in Colorado, before we include in our official list.”
The first reported case of the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, was reported in Colorado, according to Colorado Governor Jared Polis.
While there is no reported case of the COVID-19 variant in the Philippines, the national government has imposed a travel ban to 20 countries where the variant was detected.
President Rodrigo Duterte has also extended the temporary suspension of flights and prohibition of entry on all travelers coming from the United Kingdom, the country where the COVID-19 variant was first detected, until Jan. 15, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
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