In wake of US CDC notice, Philippines says it”s safe to enjoy over 7k islands

The Philippines continues to implement health and safety protocols to ensure the safety of guests visiting the country’s tourism sites, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Wednesday.

The DOT made the statement a day after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorized the Philippines as Level 3 or a country with a high level of COVID-19.

“The global pandemic continues to expose the tourism industry to challenges, but our travelers can rest assured that the Philippine government continues to ensure that minimum public health and safety standards are in place, coupled with the precautionary measures observed by our partners from the private and public sectors,” Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said in a statement.

“Therefore, our guests can safely enjoy any of our 7,641 islands even during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are confident of the measures and guidelines that we have instituted to strike a balance between safety and travel in the new normal,” she added.

According to the US CDC, countries and territories under Level 3 means they have more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population over the past 28 days.

It advised travelers going to the Philippines to make sure they were up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before making the trip. Those who weren’t up to date, meanwhile, were advised to avoid visiting the destinations.

The Department of Health earlier said the Philippines was still at low risk for the virus, explaining the country and US CDC are using different metrics in classifying the COVID-19 risks.

“In terms of these classifications by the US CDC, it talks about the number of cases and the number of those testing positive but we need to further go deep and analyze these,” DOH officer in charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire said.

In allaying fears, the DOT said more than half of the roughly 235 places the CDC monitored were under Level 3.

It added the Philippines had a high vaccination rate against COVID-19 — a tool experts say is vital in preventing the transmission of the coronavirus.

“What we learned from the advent of Covid-19 is that we cannot continue to allow the fear of it to negatively shape our lives and our travel plans,” Frasco said.

“So much has been lost to this pandemic. We need to revise our perspective and learn how to live with this virus in a manner that is reasonable, rational, as well as responsible for health protocols so that not only lives but livelihoods of people dependent on tourism may be saved in the process,” she added.

The Philippines on Tuesday recorded 2,633 new COVID-19 cases increasing the nationwide caseload to 3,838,062. Active infections dipped to 36,190 — marking the second straight day it was under 40,000. –NB, GMA News

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