‘High-risk’ warning prompts DoT to tout safety measures at destinations


THE Department of Tourism (DoT) said health protocols remain in force at all destinations after the Philippines was classified as a “high-risk” country for the coronavirus by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

“The global pandemic continues to expose the tourism industry to challenges, but our travelers can rest assured that the Philippine government continues to ensure that minimum public health and safety standards are in place, coupled with the precautionary measures observed by our partners from the private and public sectors,” Tourism Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina G. Frasco said in a statement.  

“Therefore, our guests can safely enjoy any of our 7,641 islands even in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are confident of the measures and guidelines that we have instituted to strike a balance between safety and travel in the new normal,” she added.

The CDC warning applies to countries with more than 100 infections per 100,000 population in the past 28 days.

Citing a bulletin from the Health department, the DoT said that the Philippines has a 92.3% vaccination rate, equivalent to over 72 million fully vaccinated Filipinos as of Aug. 14.

It added that the bulletin indicates that intensive care unit (ICU) bed space was 28% utilized (719 of 2,571) while the corresponding utilization was 30.9% (6,781 of 21,968) for non-ICU beds.

Health department Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire has said that the Philippines is currently assigning more weight to the hospital bed utilization rate rather than new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

“There is also a stark difference between the COVID-19 positivity rate of the Philippines which is now averaging at 4,001 daily compared to that of US which recorded 13,609 new cases in the last 24 hours (Aug. 16, 7:20 PM Philippine time) according to the World Health Global Organization (WHO) website,” the DoT said.

Ms. Frasco said that the Philippines cannot continue to allow COVID-19 to disrupt travel.

“So much has been lost to this pandemic. We need to revise our perspective and learn how to live with this virus in a manner that is reasonable, rational, as well as responsible (in terms of following) health protocols, so not only lives, but livelihoods of people dependent on tourism may be saved in the process,” Ms. Frasco said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave