MANILA, July 15 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines has extended the travel ban on travelers from India and six other countries until the end of the month to prevent the spread of the highly-transmissible Delta Covid-19 variant, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in his regular Palace press briefing.

“Inaprubahan ng inyong IATF ang extension ng travel restrictions sa (The IATF approved the extension of the travel restrictions currently in place on) India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, at Oman hanggang katapusan ng buwan o (until the end of the month or) July 31, 2021,” he said.

Roque said the IATF technical working group is directed to further review and provide recommendations on the appropriate testing and quarantine protocols for travelers coming from the said countries, and such other countries/jurisdictions which may be identified as high risk.

This is the fifth time that travel restrictions were imposed on the seven countries to prevent the entry of the Delta variant, first detected in India, which has already been found in some 100 countries.

The travel ban on India was first imposed from April 29 to May 15.

The Philippine government later decided to expand the travel restrictions by including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and UAE.

The Philippines has so far reported a total of 17 Delta cases that originated in India.

Delta coronavirus variant is found to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha variant and apparently behind the surge in cases in other countries, according to reports.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressed concern over the emergence of new Covid-19 strains like the Delta and Lambda variants and assured that the government is closely monitoring the country’s border to prevent local transmission.

He renewed his call for the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19, noting that it is the best form of protection against respiratory disease.

“Our best defense is still to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said in a pre-recorded meeting Talk to the People. “I reiterate my appeal: Please get vaccinated as soon as possible. The life you’ll be saving is not only your own, but of your loved ones and the people around you.”

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the country has so far administered 14 million doses in the country, 10 million of which are first doses.

On Tuesday, the Philippines logged 3,604 more new Covid-19 cases, bringing the country’s total infections to 1,481,660.

Recoveries reached 1,408,634 with 5,840 more recuperations while 77 new deaths brought the death toll up to 26,092. (MNS)

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