Duque: Travel ban recommended if new COVID-19 variant reaches community transmission

    MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Saturday, December 26, said travel ban should only be done if the new strain of COVID-19 reaches community transmission.

    Duque: Travel ban recommended if new COVID-19 variant
    Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque. PCOO

    "Travel ban will be considered only once community transmission of the new variant has been recorded in the country," he said during the public briefing presided by President Rodrigo Duterte.

    Duque also assured Filipinos that the country is ready to fight new COVID-19 strain with the existing mechanisms.

    "We are not defenseless. Kung makakapsok siya (new variant), please be reassured that the mechanism, the systems are all in place," he said.

    In the same meeting, Duque revealed that a traveler from the United Kingdom who recently arrived in the Philippines has tested positive for COVID-19.

    The patient was among the 79 travelers from the UK who have arrived in the country from December 22-25. He was brought to the New Clark City in Tarlac to complete 14-day quarantine.

    “Pero ‘yung testing po nito, hindi po nangangahulugan na ito na ‘yung new variant dahil magasasagawa pa pong pagsusuri ang atin pong mga eksperto mula sa Philippine Genome Center,” he clarified.

    On social media, Duque trended anew with his statements. Netizens and politicians, including Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda worried on the government's decision.

    "Last January, I recommended a temporary ban on travel from China, when covid was just starting. Sec. Duque said in House of Representatives question hour that it’s not needed, and we can handle it. And now, we must wait for community transmission? We can ill afford that!," she tweeted.

    President Duterte also wanted to create another task force to focus on new COVID-19 strain.

    — The Summit Express

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