MANILA, June 15 (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Thursday denied that the government was “too late” in imposing travel restrictions on Indonesia to prevent the entry of the highly transmissible Delta Covid-19 variant.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there were only a limited number of passengers from Indonesia that entered the Philippines from April to July.

“Hindi naman po too late ‘yan kasi mayroon naman po tayong datos ng mga dumarating na pasahero galing sa Indonesia (It’s not too late because we have data of passengers coming from Indonesia),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Citing government data from April to July, Roque said there were only a total of 724 passengers from Indonesia that entered the country.

He also assured that all passengers from Indonesia had undergone a 10-day facility-based quarantine and a four-day quarantine in their respective local government units (LGUs).

“Maliit po ‘yan at lahat po ‘yan ay dumaan naman po sa 10-araw na facility quarantine and four-day quarantine sa local government unit. So hindi naman po dahil limitado din talaga yung mga pumasok galing sa Indonesia (That is a small number and all of them underwent a 10-day facility quarantine and a four-day quarantine in their respective local government units. So it’s not too late because only a limited number of people were allowed to enter the country),” he added.

Roque said the public need not worry because the government has yet to reopen the Philippines for tourism-related travel.

“Wala po tayong turismo at wala rin po tayong business visas except for the long-term investor’s visa na inissue natin (We don’t have tourism and we don’t have business visas except for the long-term investor’s visa that we issued),” he said.

He further explained that only Filipinos will be exempted from travel restrictions.

“Mayroon naman talaga tayong travel ban in general. Halos mga Pilipino lang pong umuuwi—mga OFWs at mga overseas Filipinos na umuuwi—ang pinapapasok natin (We really have a travel ban in general. Mostly Filipinos—OFWs and overseas Filipinos—are allowed to return home),” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday afternoon approved the recommendation of the government’s pandemic task force to include Indonesia in the list of seven countries currently under travel restrictions until July 31, 2021.

Nations already listed in the travel ban are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

The Philippines has so far reported a total of 19 cases of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.

The Delta coronavirus variant is found to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and apparently behind the surge in cases in other countries, according to reports.

Indonesia has overtaken India as Asia’s new epicenter for the Covid-19 after posting record daily infections topping 54,000.

The Southeast Asian country has reported shortages of health workers, oxygen and Covid-19 medications as the government seeks emergency supplies from other countries. (MNS)

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