"The IATF should focus now on securing enough vaccines for the rest of us Filipinos. "
The government must extend the restriction on the entry of foreigners to the Philippines indefinitely until world health experts determine how to contain the threat of the SARS-COV2 variant.
If not extended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the restriction supposedly ends today January 15, 2021, affecting travelers from at least 33 countries afflicted by the COVID variant.
The 33 countries include the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Canada.
We support proposals to expand the temporary ban on inbound travelers from all countries, with the exception of the diplomatic corps and international airlines crew members who have to go through stringent health and safety protocols.
Just yesterday, the Department of Health (DOH) disclosed that the COVID variant had been detected in the country, carried by a Filipino tourist returning from Dubai, UAE along with his girlfriend.
They are now in a hotel designated as an isolation-quarantine facility in Quezon City.
Health officials must do better this time as they said the coronavirus strain is more contagious, if not more dangerous.
The highly transmissible COVID variant which was first discovered in the United Kingdom last December may cause an upsurge in cases of infections in the country, said DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega.
Vega said they are also keeping an eye on SARS-COV2 South African variant, which is just as deadly.
More than ever, we must strictly follow preventive health and safety protocols like hand washing, wearing of masks and face shields, use of disinfectants, keep physical distancing, avoid unnecessary social gathering and stay at home.
We cannot refuse entry to returning Filipino citizens, particularly Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), but we can mitigate the probability of person-to-person transmission if we keep out foreign travelers for leisure purposes.
Besides, we lack the stringent quarantine facilities for returning Filipino travelers who are required to isolate for 14 days and wait for the results of their COVID-19 tests.
If in January last year we had reacted to the novel coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan City, Hubei China as swiftly as we did to reports of the COVID variant in the United Kingdom, we would have much less cases of infections in the country today.
After months of economic stoppage and sacrifices of those front-liners, we have registered over 491,000 COVID-19 cases.
Just as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March, we were still trying to attract local and international tourists to Boracay island.
A couple from Wuhan City, China brought novel coronavirus to Manila, and the rest is history.
Late reacting and overreacting after DOH officials had downplayed the threat COVID-19, massive chaos followed as Luzon went on lockdown.
Without immediate mass testing, isolation and an effective treatment program, COVID-19 spread like wildfire especially in crowded neighborhoods.
We can only wish the IATF would not let the chaotic events happen again.
They need everyone’s cooperation.
Let us not allow such pandemonium to happen again amid a new pandemic threat.
The IATF should temporarily seal the borders and focus now on securing enough vaccines for the rest of us Filipinos.