The Department of Health (DOH) said it is eyeing to recommend including Malaysia and Thailand in the travel ban list amid the threat of the Delta variant of the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Titingnan pa rin natin yung ibang mga bansa and we do a two-week re-evaluation sa sitwasyon (We are still looking at other countries and we will do a two-week re-evaluation of the situation),” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III during the Laging Handa press briefing on Thursday, July 15.
“Titingnan natin (ang) Malaysia. Tinitingnan din natin ang Thailand at kung saan meron na parang hindi na mapigilan ang pag-angat ng Delta variant cases (We’re looking at Malaysia. We’re also looking at Thailand and other nations where it seems that the rise of Delta variant cases is already uncontrollable),” he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Wednesday, July 14, that travelers from Indonesia are now also banned from entering the Philippines. Other countries included in the travel ban list are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.
“Pinag-aaralan na iyan ng Epidemiology Bureau ng DOH at posible na magbigay rekomendasyon sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) kung hahabaan ba ang listahan ng travel ban (The DOH’s Epidemiology bureau is studying that and it is possible to make a recommendation to the IATF on whether to expand the travel ban list),” said Duque
“Ang ating Epidemiology Bureau, nakikipag ugnayan sila sa mga counterparts, no, para mabigyan tayo ng signal kung napapanahon na magkaroon na tayo ng expanded travel ban sa mga additional countries (Our Epidemiology Bureau is in contact with their counterparts to give us a signal when it is time to expand the travel ban),” he added.
Duque once again noted the importance of strict border control.
“Yung intensified border control ay nakatulong na magkaroon ng tinatawag na head start dahil hindi pa naman nagkakaroon ng community transmission or local Delta variant cases (The intensified border control has helped us to have a so-called head start because there have been no community transmission or local Delta variant cases yet),” he said.
The implementation of strict border control is also helping the government to buy time to further strengthen the country’s healthcare capacity, said Duque.
“Mas marami tayong ICU (intensive care unit), isolation beds; mas maraming isolation facilities — napalawig na natin lahat iyan. Just in case na makapasok, at least handa tayo na pangasiwaan itong mga kaso bunsod ng Delta variants (We have more ICU, isolation beds; more isolation facilities — we’ve all expanded that. Just in case this variant gets in, at least we are ready to handle these cases due to the Delta variant),” he added.