Health expert supports imposition of travel restrictions amid Omicron variant threat

Published December 1, 2021, 11:44 AM

by Analou de Vera


An infectious disease expert expressed his support to the decision of the Philippine government to impose travel restrictions on some countries due to the growing threat of the potentially more transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant.

“I think we have learned from our experience before, especially with the Delta variant. It’s a precautionary measure on our part—a third world country. It’s very difficult when an Omicron variant of concern can enter our country,” said Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Unit of San Lazaro Hospital, in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

“For me, it’s just appropriate that at this point we were able to do that,” he added.

Solante said it is important for the Philippines to be “proactive.”

“We need to be proactive. Being proactive—sometimes we are overactive also—but that is fine as long as there is no Omicron variant of concern here in the Philippines coming from another country,” he said.

The Philippines temporarily suspended inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy amid fears about the Omicron variant.

Currently, Solante said that the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients being admitted to hospitals has already decreased.

“I think it is really low for me because in the hospitals, we’ve not been getting new cases and that is a good sign,” he said.

Solante attributed the decrease in COVID-19 cases to high vaccination rate and adherence to minimum public health standards.

“The vaccine is very important. Second, I think people have really changed their lifestyle in terms of the health protocols,” he said.

“Most of us are really doing it, being conscious about protecting ourselves and protecting our work because if you will be sick, you cannot work…So all of these things are more or less factors why cases are going down,” he added.