President Rodrigo Duterte has approved for additional 2 weeks the imposition of travel ban for all flights originating from the United Kingdom.
The approval come after health authorities confirmed a new variant of COVID-19 that was reported in UK. The 2-week extension will remain valid until mid of January 2021. Originally, the government imposed a ban until end of December.
On top of this, DOH has also recommended a strict mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers from countries which have reported cases of the new variant.
Travellers coming from countries/areas with confirmed cases of the new variant shall undergo mandatory completion of the 14-day quarantine in New Clark City regardless of RT-PCR test results, the DOH said in a press statement.
To date, this includes travelers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, and Japan. The DOH is closely monitoring all countries with documented cases of the new COVID-19 variant.
Meanwhile, all RT-PCR positive specimens of UK travellers are to be forwarded to Philippine Genome Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health for genome sequencing as part of the country’s intensified biosurveillance.
The DOH further proposed, based on the recommendation of its experts, to consider travel restrictions in countries that have recorded cases of the COVID-19 new variant when local community transmission has been confirmed in said countries.
Finally, DOH underscores the importance of adhering to the minimum public health standards (MPHS) through regular handwashing, observing cough or sneeze etiquette, proper wearing of masks and face shields, physical distancing of at least one meter, and ensuring air circulation.
The observance of MPHS is key to keeping infection rates low, as the chances of mutation is lower when fewer people get infected. Moreover, it is universally effective for any type of COVID-19 mutation.