Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III explained that travel restrictions in the Philippines are still subject to change since the new variant of coronavirus found in other countries is still evolving. 

“Remember, our recommendations are not cast in stone. They change depending on the most recent developments,” Duque said.

“Although ngayon kasi, may mga naririnig na rin ako na halimbawa ang Japan daw ay nag-ban na rin ng mga travelers from countries even if they have no local transmission…The situation is evolving. So we’ll have to be mindful of what’s happening around us,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte extended the banning of flights from the United Kingdom, the country where the new Covid-19 variant was first detected, until the 2nd week of January 2021. 

Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) did not advise travel restrictions on countries without community transmission of the new variant. This decision was heavily criticized on social media. 

Possible economic impact would ensue once the country closed its borders to other countries. Such a decision should be based on the “level of evidence” on the case, according to Dr. Socorro Escalante, World Health Organization representative in the Philippines.

Alam po din natin (We also know) that the border restriction will have significant economic and humanitarian impact, and therefore if we are going to decide this very restrictive intervention, we really need to consider all dimensions,” Escalante said in the same briefing.

However, government officials explained that strict mandatory quarantine for travelers coming from other countries are still enforced, especially those places with reported cases of the new variant. These travelers will undergo a 14-day quarantine protocol regardless of the RT-PCR test results.

Other than the UK, the new Covid-19 variant has also reached the shores of Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and Japan. The Philippines has no reported case of the new Covid-19 variant. RJ Espartinez