Tight border control vs Delta variant enforced by gov't

Published June 21, 2021, 5:01 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

As four new cases of the Delta coronavirus variant have been detected in the country, the government is determined to keep the tight border controls to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible virus strain.

A health worker prepares to administer a coronavirus vaccine to an airport employee at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on June 2, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has asked for patience and understanding as authorities will continue to strictly implement the testing and quarantine procedures for travelers arriving from abroad.

“Hindi po magbabago iyong ating border controls ‘no. At sa ngayon po, ini-impose po natin ang mandatory ten-day facility quarantine at mandatory PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test on the seventh day. At iyong natitirang apat na araw po ay kinakailangang strict home quarantine pa rin po iyan. (Our border controls have not changed. At present, we’ve imposed a mandatory 10-day facility quarantine and mandatory PCR test on the seventh day. The remaining four days will be strict home quarantine),” he said during a televised press briefing Monday, June 21.

“So humihingi po tayo ng pasensiya sa ating mga umuuwing mga Pilipino, pero ito lang po talaga ang tanging pamamaraan para mapigilan ang pagpasok ng Delta variant (So we are asking for patience from returning Filipinos but this is the only way to stop the entry of the Delta variant),” he said.

READ: DOH reports detection of 40 additional COVID-19 variant cases

On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported four more cases of the Delta variant, that pushed the country’s total to 17 cases.

The coronavirus variant, first detected in India, is said to be more contagious than the Alpha variant first identified in the United Kingdom and causes more symptoms. It has so far spread to more than 80 countries, according to global health authorities.

So far, Roque noted that there has been no community transmission of the Delta variant in the country based on a report from local health experts.

“Hindi pa naman po nasa komunidad ang Delta variant so pupuwede pa pong pigilan ang pagpasok sa ating teritoryo (There is no community transmission of the Delta variant yet so we can still prevent the entry into our territory),” he said in justifying the government’s strict health protocols for inbound travelers.

For returning travelers vaccinated in the country, they will have a shorter quarantine requirement starting June 22.

The government has required these vaccinated travelers stay in quarantine for seven days at a facility, instead of the 10-day facility-based quarantine and four days in their place of destination. The passengers will have to take a swab only if they show coronavirus symptoms during their quarantine.

The arrival protocols were supposed to take effect last June 16 but pushed back to June 22 as the government was still preparing the system that will verify vaccination certificates.

These returning vaccinated travelers must carry a vaccine card and government-issued certification to prove their vaccination status.