Fri. Feb 26th, 2021
People wearing face masks and face shields as protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) queue at a bus stop, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, December 23, 2020. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

More travel restrictions would be considered as soon as a country reports community transmission of the new variant of SARS-COV-2, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday.

President Rodrigo Duterte also extended for another two weeks the travel ban for flights coming from the United Kingdom.

The DOH clarified that the ban can be considered only when transmission of the new variant is at the community level in the originating country. 

“Please note the recommendations presented refer to countries/areas apart from the UK (United Kingdom) that have and will report the UK new variant,” the DOH said in an advisory. The UK has reported a new variant of the SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In the meantime, it said a strict mandatory 14-day quarantine would be imposed for travelers coming from countries that initially reported the new variant, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Japan.

“Per our experts, as more and more countries report the detection of UK new variant, travel restrictions will be unsustainable. So we will mandate the 14-day quarantine regardless of test results. And part of which is increasing our capacities for bio/genomic surveillance,” it said.

Meanwhile, Duterte on Saturday night extended for another two weeks the travel ban for flights coming from the UK. Initially, the travel ban began last December 24 and was supposed to end on December 31. 

Duterte made the decision upon the recommendation of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and infectious diseases experts.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant strain has been predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2.SOVEREIGNPH

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