PH steps up border control to prevent entry of COVID-19 variants

Published July 23, 2021, 12:05 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The Philippines has intensified its border control to prevent the entry of coronavirus (COVID-19) variants of concern, Malacañang said.

File photo (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the local transmission of the more contagious Delta variant in the Philippines.

So far, the country has recorded 47 cases of the more infectious strain.

In his statement, Roque said all incoming international travelers in all ports of entry must strictly comply with testing and quarantine protocols approved by the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases as a measure against variants of COVID-19.

“This is to further prevent the introduction of variants of concern to the country,” he said.

According to Roque, the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) was ordered to identify the close contacts in the plane/vessel of the confirmed case and closely monitor them.

Infection prevention and control protocols must likewise be strictly followed in all quarantine and isolation facilities.

Local Government Units (LGUs) handover must also include clear transportation arrangements and quarantine accommodation.

In addition, Roque said LGUs must closely monitor for the appearance of any sign or symptom while arrivals are completing their quarantine and immediately conduct testing after detection of symptoms.

The health assessment must likewise be done for all arrivals at the end of their isolation or quarantine period.

President Duterte has called for an emergency meeting of the IATF on Saturday, July 24, on measures to contain the Delta spread. Health experts will reportedly be invited to the meeting. Duterte told CNN Philippines Thursday that he was mulling the closure of the country’s borders amid concerns about the surge in coronavirus cases.

The Delta variant first detected in India has prompted the Philippines to impose travel restrictions on 10 countries. The latest to be added to the list were Malaysia and Thailand.

Malacañang has appealed to the public to continue following health protocols and to not leave their homes if possible. President Duterte has reminded the public to be vaccinated.