Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 22) — Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday said now is the time for the country to consider imposing a temporary ban on flights from the United Kingdom, where a new coronavirus strain, which reportedly spreads more quickly than other variants, has been detected.
“Panahon na para ikonsidera ang temporary travel ban sa UK,” Roque said in a briefing.
[Translation: It is now the time to consider a temporary ban on UK.]
For now, despite the perceived threat from the new strain, Roque believes the country will be “safe” as long as inbound travelers will follow the conditions set by the Philippines to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Pero sa ngayon naman po, basta sumunod sa ating protocol na quarantine bago lumabas ang PCR test ay safe naman po tayo,” he said.
[Translation: But for now, as long as travelers would follow our protocol, which is to go through quarantine while waiting for the result of a PCR test, then we are safe.]
Roque earlier said there was no need yet to issue stricter travel restrictions since the UK already imposed a lockdown and the Philippines has its own inbound travel regulations. The Department of Health on Monday shared the same sentiment, noting that the Philippines remains closed to foreigners with a few exceptions, including diplomats.
Meanwhile, Senators Frank Drilon and Ralph Recto favored banning flights from the UK as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.
“We must do everything to ensure the safety and protection of our people,” Recto said in a statement.
“DOH should act decisively and not procrastinate. Recall that in February, DOH did not immediately ban travels from China, which directly caused the deadly local transmission of COVID-19,” Drilon said in a separate statement.
The first known patient who showed symptoms of the coronavirus disease was from China’s Wuhan City. The first confirmed coronavirus case in the Philippines — a 38-year-old Chinese woman — was also from Wuhan.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier banned flights from mainland China only days after the country confirmed its first COVID-19 case.
Since the United Kingdom announced a lockdown on Saturday, several countries in Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East have restricted travel from the UK, and in some cases, travel from other countries that have reported cases with the new coronavirus variant, CNN reported Tuesday.
By CNN Philippines Staff