Sen. Hontiveros urges DOH, DFA to include China in travel ban

Published January 5, 2021, 11:12 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday asked the Duterte administration to include China in its travel ban where the new variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been detected.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, Hontiveros urged the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to recommend the inclusion of China in the list of countries banned from entering the country to prevent the transmission of the new COVID-19 variant.

“Tigilan na ang kababalaghan. Bakit exempted ang China? Natatakot nanaman ba tayong masaktan ang damdamin nito? Unahin naman natin ang Pilipinas,” Hontiveros said. (Let’s stop this travesty. Why exempt China? The administration fears banning China would hurt its feelings? We should prioritize the Philippines.)

Upon the recommendation of the DOH and DFA, the Office of the President had recently included the United States of America to be in the list of countries subject to travel restrictions, after cases of the new variant were confirmed in the US.

Hontiveros said that the agencies should strongly suggest the same for China.

“Lubos na nakakahawa ang new variant na ito. Huwag na nating hintayin na maghingalo pa ang ating mga ospital at mahirapan pa ang ating mga nars at doktor bago umaksyon,” Hontiveros said. (This new variant is virulent. Let us not wait for our hospitals to gasp in addressing patients seeking help and our doctors and nurses overworked before springing into action.)

China recently confirmed that a 23-year-old woman who arrived from the United Kingdom is positive for the recent COVID-19 strain.

The woman arrived in China on December 14, and by December 24, the genetic sequencing results confirmed that the patient’s strain was the same as the new variant first discovered in the UK.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, Hontiveros called on a temporary travel ban for individuals coming from Wuhan, China, where the very first COVID-19 virus was detected, and subsequently urged government to impose a China-wide temporary travel ban that same month.

In November, China also banned the entry of travelers from the Philippines to control the spread of COVID-19.

“Matuto naman tayo. We already know that a temporary travel ban can buy us time to prepare for any potential outbreaks of the new variant. Ang ban ay isa lang sa napakaraming hakbang na dapat ginagawa na natin para mag-ingat at mapanatiling ligtas ang mga Pilipino,” Hontiveros added. (Let us learn. The ban is one of the many measures that should be adopted for safety and make Filipinos are safe.)