MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday threw his support behind a proposal to place a travel ban on India as it grapples with a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Locsin on Twitter said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases sought his advice on the possible foreign policy implications of such a ban.
“I said there are none, for we mean it with only the best intentions, for everyone’s safety and with an abiding affection and admiration for India, the pharmacy of the world.”
Local experts are currently studying the COVID-19 variant that has contributed to the surge of infections in India, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday. She added that the departments of health and of foreign affairs are discussing the possibility of imposing a ban on the South Asian country.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday called the situation in India “beyond heartbreaking,” referring to a catastrophic coronavirus wave that has left hospitals overwhelmed and crematoriums working at full capacity.
A surge in recent days has seen patients’ families taking to social media to beg for oxygen supplies and locations of available hospital beds, and has forced the capital New Delhi to extend a week-long lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Philippines reached a grim milestone on Monday, marking over a million COVID-19 infections since the onset of the pandemic.
— Bella Perez-Rubio with reports from Agence France-Presse
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