MANILA, Dec 2 (Mabuhay) — Having a uniform travel policy for all countries, even those that have yet to detect the Omicron variant or have a low number of COVID-19 infections, is not acceptable, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the uniform travel policy is unfair as it is disadvantageous for countries with low cases.

“Also we have these kinds of considerations for fully-vaccinated individuals. So Having uniform standard or protocol across different countries would not be acceptable, especially with foreign relations,” Vergeire said.

Vergeire said classifying countries under the green, yellow, or red list is what is important.

“What’s important really would be for us to classify the countries for us to be able to prevent further increase in cases in the Philippines because some countries would have more of these variants or more of these cases and some countries would not have this kind of situation,” she said.

The Philippines has imposed a temporary travel ban on inbound travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy over the coronavirus Omicron variant.

Also, the DOH has called on the Philippine government to impose travel restrictions on Hong Kong, which remains on the country’s yellow list despite having detected the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said the DOH does not yet see any reason to change protocols as the current ones have remained effective.

“And based on our experts’ recommendations, we just need to be very cautious that when an individual is identified or detected with this Omicron variant, we need to have them complete the 14-day quarantine, we need to have them tested negative before they can be discharged,” she pointed out. (MNS)

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