Philippines urged to consider total travel ban amid Omicron variant

Former health adviser Dr. Tony Leachon on Wednesday advised the national government to impose a travel ban on all countries to prevent transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which has already been detected in the Philippines.

After the Department of Health recorded two Omicron cases from international travelers, Leachon said the Philippines should emulate Israel’s policy, which closed borders to all countries to halt the spread of Omicron.

“Ako gagayahin ko ang Israel. Ang Israel wala talaga, total ban (We should adopt Israel’s policy. Israel implemented total ban),” Leachon said over Super Radyo dzBB.

“Maraming babalik sa atin tapos mild siya (Omicron) pero highly transmissible (Many Filipinos are returning. Omicron is mild but it is highly transmissible.),” he added.

He also suggested to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to reconsider quarantine policies for inbound travelers.

“Ako personally baka kailangan i-re-evaluate ng IATF. Kung ‘di man yung travel ban nila… yung tinatawag na quarantine,” he said.

(IATF should reevaluate its travel ban… If they can’t they can reevaluate the quarantine.)

“For example sa Hong Kong, quarantine ay 21 days, kung ayaw mo magtravel ban,” Leachon added.

(For example in Hong Kong, quarantine is 21 days if they don’t like travel ban.)

Leachon also warned that the government should act immediately in its vaccination efforts as there are still many seniors who are unvaccinated.

As of December 14, government figures showed that 4,019,029 million older adults nationwide are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

He also said those with comorbidities are at risk to the Omicron variant, citing that there are about 25 million Filipinos suffering from hypertension and 10 million who are diagnosed with diabetes.

Leachon said there is a need to protect the Philippines’ borders as the economy is already improving.

“Anyway, umaangat na ang ating ekonomiya dahil nakita natin galawan sa Metro Manila, so we protect our borders. (Our economy is already okay because we have seen movement in Metro Manila so we protect our borders),” he said.

Currently, the Philippines’ new cases continue to decrease. As of Wednesday, nationwide tally was at 2,836,915 after reporting only 237 fresh infections.

Occupancy rate in intensive care unit beds nationwide are also below 25%, which means it is marked safe.–LDF, GMA News

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