MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday appealed for patience from Filipinos who are in countries covered by travel restrictions and who are eager to come home, saying protocols on travelers have to be enforced to prevent the entry of more infectious COVID-19 variants.
The Philippines has extended the travel ban on passengers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates and Oman until June 30 as a precautionary measure against the more infectious Delta variant.
However, Filipinos covered by the repatriation efforts of the government and manning agencies cleared by the quarantine bureau can still come to the Philippines but should undergo quarantine and testing protocols.
Some Filipino migrant workers are urging the government to lift the travel ban, saying some of them have been stranded in their host countries for a month.
"We are appealing for patience from returning Filipinos. This is the only way to prevent the entry of the Delta variant," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.
"Our border controls will not change. For now, we are imposing our mandatory ten-day facility quarantine and mandatory PCR test on the seventh day. The remaining four days will have to be spent on strict home quarantine," he added.
Roque advised Filipinos who want to come home to coordinate with the Philippine embassies in their respective host countries or their manning agencies so they can organize a repatriation program.
"What is important is for the Bureau of Quarantine to be advised ahead of time that there will be Filipinos who will arrive through repatriation programs," the Palace spokesman said.
"I repeat, we are appealing for your patience…We have seen what happened in India. I am sure you do not want to see that happening to yourselves or to your loved ones, and that's why we are cautious when it comes to the Delta variant," he added.
Cynthia Saloma, executive director of the Philippine Genome Center, said the Philippines should strengthen its border controls, noting that the Delta variant first detected in India can infect up to eight people. She said 17 cases with the Delta variant have been detected in the Philippines but no community transmission has been reported so far.
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