In a way, the original novel coronavirus that started the annoying global pandemic of 2020 has been losing the fighting against humanity this year, since the first COVID-19 vaccines rolled out for administration. The focus now is on the increasing mutant strains of the virus that have been popping up everywhere, described by analysts as being more aggressive or infectious, and by some vaccine manufacturers as more resistant to these same vaccines. One COVID variant, the Delta strain from India, has been so concerning internationally that countries have travel restrictions in place. The Philippines in fact has just announced an extension of its standing ban.
According to The Manila Bulletin, a travel ban from the Philippines to India and six other countries with cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant that is soon to expire has been given another lease on life. This was announced today, July 4, by Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on behalf of Malacañang. The current travel stoppage from the country to areas in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, originally set to end July 15, will now continue all the way to the end of this month. The affected nations are India, ground zero of the Delta strain, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, UAE, Oman and Indonesia.
The travel ban extension was made on recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), which has been monitoring the trends in COVID strains overseas. The addition of Indonesia to the former six restricted destinations was made with the ban extension, after the IATF technical working group assessed an upsurge in new Indonesian cases of the Delta variant to bring its infection total to two million.
So far, on 19 COVID cases in the Philippines at present are of the Delta strain. All of them however were returning OFWs, giving credence to extending the travel ban between the Philippines and the Middle East for instance. Unfortunately, the new restriction expiry has caused no end of complaints from overseas Filipino workers in the affected nations, as they themselves having to rebook airline tickets they can no longer use at the moment. Spokesperson Roque notes that this wasteful side-effect of the ever-changing travel ban advisories could be mitigated by having the IATF assessments on lifting or retaining the bans be done monthly rather than weekly, for ample prep. Meanwhile, local community quarantine levels are still set to be updated on Thursday, independent of the overseas travel ban situation.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News