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Duque: Experts studying possible travel ban on Indonesia over Delta variant

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said experts are studying a possible ban on travelers from Indonesia over the threat of the Delta coronavirus variant.

“This is being studied by our technical advisory group of experts. I understand that there are already many countries [that] the Delta variant has invaded,” he said in an interview on ANC.

The Philippines has extended until July 15 its temporary ban on travelers from the United Arab Emirates, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Oman, Nepal, and Bangladesh due to the Delta variant. 

Health reform advocate and former government advisor Dr. Tony Leachon earlier urged authorities to also impose a travel ban on Indonesia, which is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and has also reported the detection of the Delta variant. 

In response, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said tightening border control is better than expanding the travel ban since the Delta variant has already been detected in over 90 countries. 

“What is important is a very stringent border control. The quarantine protocol has to be strictly enforced,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, the health chief said the government’s list of “green countries,” or nations whose citizens can enjoy a shorter quarantine period upon arrival in the Philippines, is “dynamic” and will still be expanded. 

Duque explained that the United States was not included in the initial list despite its high vaccination rate due to the transmission of the Delta variant there.

“Remember, USA has now 30% of its reported cases due to Delta variant, so nakakatakot din 'yan [that’s also scary],” he said.

“We have to be very careful. Madali mag-relax [It’s easy to relax]. That’s the easiest thing to do, it’s the sweetest thing to do. But the challenge is to keep off those variants from entering our communities,” Duque added.

The Philippines has detected 17 cases of the Delta variant as of June 17. —KBK, GMA News

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