PH mulls ban on travelers from India over ‘double mutant’ strain

PH mulls ban on travelers from India over ‘double mutant’ strain

MANILA – The Philippines is studying the possibility of imposing restrictions on travelers from India to prevent the spread of new coronavirus strains in the country, Malacañang said on Monday.

“Pinag-aaralan na po ‘yan bagamat wala naman po tayong direct flights ngayon sa India (We are currently studying it although we don’t have any direct flights to India),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

India is currently battling a “double mutant” strain of coronavirus which is believed to be more transmissible than previous strains.

The variant is known as B.1.617 and has two unusual mutations: E484Q and L425R.

Currently, foreigners, except diplomats and healthcare workers, are still barred from entering the Philippines.

Foreign parents, spouses, and children of Filipinos may enter the country, provided they are traveling with the Filipino principal, and have a valid entry.

India’s health ministry first acknowledged the presence of the “double mutant” strain at the end of March.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is “deeply concerned” about the situation in India.

Aside from the B.1.617 strain, other variants of SARS-CoV-2, including those first reported in South Africa (20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351), the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7.), and Brazil (P.1), have also emerged globally.

India recorded another global coronavirus record on Sunday after it registered single-day cases of 349,691 in the last 24 hours, according to Anadolu Agency report.

The overall tally is now 16.9 million and the death toll stands at 192,311, including a record 2,767 deaths, according to the Health Ministry of India.

A staggering surge in infections of more than 300,000 daily since Thursday has put the country’s health system under severe strain, resulting in a massive shortage of oxygen in hospitals.

In the Philippines, health authorities on Sunday reported 8,162 new infections and 20,509 recoveries, placing the country’s total active cases to 77,075 and total recoveries to 903,665. Azer Parrocha / PNA –