Duque: DOH backs travel ban on Hong Kong over new virus variant

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Duque: DOH backs travel ban on Hong Kong over new virus variant
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III at Nov. 15, 2021 briefing

The Department of Health has recommended a ban on travelers from Hong Kong after the detection in the territory of the B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant, which is declared a “variant of concern.”

“Yes. Ikinokonsidera na rin ‘yan. Kaya nga sumulat na kami, nag-rekomenda kami kay Executive Secretary [Salvador Medialdea] na kung puwedeng maaksyunan ito agad para makasiguro tayo na hindi makapasok ito,” health secretary Francisco Duque III said in a Dobol B sa News TV interview on Saturday.

(Yes, it is also being considered. That is why we have written and recommended to the Executive Secretary if it could be immediately acted upon for us to ensure the variant will not enter the country.)

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved the temporary suspension of inbound international flights from South Africa, Botswana, and other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant, weeks prior to Christmas season.

“Kailangan talagang tugunan ito dahil hindi naman ito karaniwang panahon, ito ay Christmas season. Kinakailangan talaga na pag-aralan itong maigi. Hopefully within the morning we can get some answers,” Duque said.

(There is really a need t address the concern because we are in an unusual season, it’s Christmas season. It is really necessary to study it carefully. We hope that within the morning we can get some answers.)

Duque said the DOH is awaiting the IATF’s amended recommendation within the day.

“Yes it was upon my prodding of IATF members to ban travelers from select African countries and also now our experts’ group will amend yesterday’s recommendation for Hong Kong given the recent declaration by the WHO of the B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern and that we have many OFWs who would want to come home for Christmas. I am awaiting their new recommendation which will be for approval by the office of the Executive  Secretary.”

Duque hinted at the possibility that the Omicron variant could change the COVID-19 downward trend in the Philippines.

“Posibleng magbago, kasi titingnan natin kung ito nga ba ay peligroso. So mag-iingat tayo. Ano ba ang tamang pag-iingat? Kasama riyan ang mas mahigpit na international border controls.”

(COVID-19’s downward trend might change if we find out that the variant is really dangerous. We have to take precautions. Proper precaution includes stricter international border controls.) —LBG, GMA News

This article Duque: DOH backs travel ban on Hong Kong over new virus variant was originally published in GMA News Online.

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