Health Secretary Francisco Duque said since the so-called double-mutant Covid-19 variant found in India is not yet considered a ‘variant of concern’, the Philippine government is yet to impose travel ban to and from the South Asian country.
He told CNN Philippines’ The Source that they have yet to discuss their latest actions on the B.1.617 Covid-19 variant with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, especially on travel guidelines for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning from India.
So far, the Philippines has not recorded cases of the variant.
“The Philippine Genome Centre has not reported to the IATF whether this has evolved to become a variant of concern. This is still considered a variant under investigation,” he said.
“We’ll take this up un the IATF (meeting)–the matter of returning OFWs who might be coming from Indian,” Duque further added.
He confirmed that there’s no ban on returning OFWs as the policy on returning OFWs is upon the directive of the president.
According to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), there are currently about 1,200 OFWs in India.
A number of countries such as the United States, Hong Kong, Pakistan, New Zealand, UAE, and the United Kingdom already put the country on the travel ban list to prevent the spread of the variant.
For his part, Philippine Ambassador to New Delhi Ramon Bagatsing Jr., he said that one should not underestimate the Indian virus.
“Definitely, if other countries are stopping the travel of Indians to their countries, that is something our government should seriously consider,” he said during the Laging Handa Briefing.