Senate leaders seek ban on travelers from EU due to new coronavirus strain

Two Senate leaders on Tuesday urged the imposition of a ban on travelers from Europe following reports of a new strain of COVID-19 was discovered in the United Kingdom.

In a text message to reporters, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the Department of Health to decide on the possible ban immediately and recalled that the late imposition of ban on travelers from China last February has caused more transmission of coronavirus in the Philippines.

“Yes, we should. DOH should act decisively and not procrastinate. Recall that in February, DOH did not immediately ban travels from China, which directly caused the deadly local transmission of COVID-19,” the minority chief said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also agreed to impose a ban on travelers from Europe to protect Filipinos from the said new strain of COVID-19.

“Yes. We must do everything to ensure the safety and protection of our people,” he said in a separate text message.

In a report from Agence France-Presse, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the government is imposing a strict Christmas Lockdown in London and southeast England as the new strain of coronavirus is already “out of control.”

The same report said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on the Britains to cancel their Christmas plans and stay at home as the new strain is spreading more quickly.

On the other hand, the Philippine Department of Health said the country’s prime laboratory for infectious diseases— Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has not yet seen or monitored this new strain of coronavirus in the country.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said they will continue to monitor this and said the country might need to strengthen measures “in the event there is a new strain in the country.”

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