UK travel ban proposed over more contagious COVID strain

Published December 22, 2020, 5:10 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Philippines should consider barring travelers from the United Kingdom following the reported outbreak of a more contagious new coronavirus strain, according to a Palace official. 

A passenger speaks with health workers before taking a Covid-19 coronavirus test upon her arrival from London at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport on the outskirts of Amritsar on December 22, 2020. (Photo by Narinder NANU / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he would press the Department of Transportation (DoTr) about the possible curbs on UK travel since it has jurisdiction on the country’s air transport.

“Panahon na para ikunsidera iyang temporary travel ban sa UK (It is time to consider a temporary travel ban on the UK),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday.

“Bagama’t pakinggan din po natin ang sinabi ng WHO na hindi naman dapat ikabahala iyan dahil ganiyan po talaga iyong progression ng mga viruses. Pero dapat mag-ingat nga din po, so kakalampagin po natin ang DOTr (Although we will listen to the WHO advice that we should not be worried because that’s really the progression of viruses, we must still take precaution so we will prod the DOTr on the matter),” he added.

At the moment, Roque said the country would be “safe” from the new virus strain as long as travelers follow safety and health protocols upon arrival in the country.

“Sa ngayon naman po, basta sumunod po sa ating protocol na quarantine bago lumabas ang PCR test, sa tingin ko safe naman po tayo (At present, as long as we follow our protocols on quarantine while waiting for the results of the PCR test, I think we are safe),” he said.

Several countries have banned travelers from UK amid growing alarm over the discovery of a new COVID variant supposedly more contagious that the original strain. British authorities expressed concern that the new variant of the virus could be driving the rapid spread of the COVID cases in London and other areas.

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands were among the nations that announced travel restrictions on UK.

Earlier, Roque said the government pandemic task force was expected to discuss its plan on how to prevent the entry of the new COVID strain in the country.