DOH unlikely to ban countries with South African variant

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
DOH unlikely to ban countries with South African variant
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire
PIA image

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is not keen on imposing travel restrictions on countries where the South African variant of COVID-19 has been detected.

“Right now, we do not see the need to restrict (our borders) to any countries with new variant. We have just lifted out travel ban,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a press briefing yesterday.

Vergeire was referring to the travel restrictions imposed in January on countries with the new United Kingdom variant of COVID-19.

She noted that the Philippines “cannot remain to be on lockdown or restricted or isolated… forever” as “the virus is inter-zonal, inter-country.”

Vergeire said the government has determined that it is no longer rational to impose restrictions on the country’s borders.

She said that what the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has decided, based on the recommendation of experts, is to have “more stringent protocols when it comes to our quarantine, isolation and testing” of travelers.

She gave assurance that the government will not relax efforts to prevent the entry of new variants into the country.

Uniform protocols for LGUs

Meanwhile, local airlines are urging the IATF to have all local government units (LGUs) adopt a single health protocol policy to facilitate easier domestic travel.

Roberto Co Lim, Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) executive director, said a uniform policy could boost domestic air travel and help homegrown airlines recover from big losses.

“There is no conflict in the intent from point to point, but it must be cleared that one policy alone, maybe, could work well so healthy people with no COVID would find no hassle in any purpose of their travel,” Lim said at Tuesday’s “Tapatan sa Aristocrat” media forum in Manila.

He said varying health protocols implemented by LGUs being serviced by local airlines cause confusion among travelers and hamper their operations, forcing some carriers to cut their fleets.

He cited how some LGUs, for instance, require arriving passengers to stay in a quarantine facility even if they hold medical certificates and travel passes from their place of origin, which had properly cleared them of COVID-19 infection.

The ACAP officer said the government must make travel easier for people who need to move about the country and continue working without compromising their health and safety from COVID-19.

“I think with the long period of time that the COVID-19 came to us, we can say that we already have knowledge on how to move on and open our economy safely and avoid the virus,” Lim said.

Stressing that the domestic airline industry has lost about P60 billion due to the impact of the pandemic, Lim said ACAP remains intact and its members intend to service more destinations and increase the frequency of their flights.

“Our group, if given a chance, would like to have more air terminals all around the country for the fast delivery of goods and passengers,” he said, adding that doing so would be one step forward to getting the economy back on track. – Jose Rodel Clapano

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with