The Philippines is studying the expansion of its travel ban to include neighboring countries Malaysia and Thailand as Southeast Asia grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said the Philippines' inter-agency task force on pandemic response is looking at the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the two countries in deciding on wider travel restrictions.
"Tinitingnan natin ang Malaysia...Tinitingnan din natin ang Thailand kung saan merong parang hindi na mapigilan ang pag-angat ng Delta variant cases. 'Yan ang ating binabantayan at mayroong surveillance system tayo diyan sa ating epidemiology bureau," Duque said in a public briefing.
"Nakikipag-ugnayan sila sa kanilang mga counterparts para mabigyan tayo ng signal kung napapanahon na na magkaroon tayo ng expanded travel ban sa additional countries,” he said.
The Philippines recently announced the inclusion of Indonesia in its travel ban, which also covers India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman until July 31.
A JPMorgan analysis has found the Philippines to be among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 Delta variant within emerging markets, mostly due to low vaccination rates.
As of July 11, the Philippines has fully inoculated 3.5 million of its people, while 9.6 million have received their first doses.