President Duterte approved the recommendation to extend the temporary ban on flights coming from the United Kingdom (UK) where the new COVID-19 strain originated.
Duterte gave the green light to extend the travel ban during his meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Diseases and other medical experts in Malacañang Saturday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the recommendation, noting that the temporary travel ban will expire on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31.
The Philippines initially banned flights from the UK from Dec. 24 to 31 as a measure against the B.1.1.7 strain of COVID-19 which is said to be more infectious compared to the original variant.
Aside from the extension of the ban on flights from the UK, Duterte also approved to subject travelers from countries with reported cases of the new COVID-19 variant to mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless of the result of their PCR test.
Duterte likewise approved the recommendation of the IATF to consider imposing travel restrictions on countries where community transmission of the new COVID-19 strain is reported.
Specimens of travelers from the UK who tested positive for COVID-19 in their RT-PCR test will now be submitted to the Philippine Genome Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health, for genomic sequencing.
In a statement yesterday morning, Roque said that Duterte also approved the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development to strengthen the genomics surveillance, as part of the biosurveillance, to include target sequencing in high-risk groups, like clusters with increased cases and clusters with increased severity and deaths.
Duterte also gave Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra the go signal to shorten the period to come up with the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Executive Order No. 122 which strengthens border control through the adoption and implementation of an Advanced Passenger Information System. (Argyll Geducos)