No need to impose stricter lockdown amid new virus strain

Philippine News Agency
December 28, 2020

DILG Secretary Eduardo  Año. (File photo)

MANILA – There is no need to impose a stricter lockdown as long as there is no proof that the new strain of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) from the United Kingdom has entered the country, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Monday.

“From all indicators of what is happening in other countries, we may just retain the old (quarantine) classification particularly in NCR (National Capital Region). We do not know yet, we will still have a discussion with the President (Rodrigo Duterte) but our proposition is to come up with measures on how to prevent the entry of the new Covid-19 variant here. For me, no need to have stricter lockdown because there is still no evidence that it [the new Covid-19 variant] has entered the country," he said in Filipino in a radio interview.

Aside from Metro Manila, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Batangas, and Lanao del Sur, and cities of Iloilo, Tacloban, Iligan, and Davao will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until Dec. 31.

All other places in the country are under modified GCQ, the least stringent of all quarantine classifications.

"For now, our guidelines say all those coming from countries that reported a case of the new Covid-19 variant would undergo 14 days mandatory quarantine. How many are those passengers? We may run out of quarantine facilities. Our countrymen who need to be quarantined might suffer. The facilities might be overwhelmed,” he explained.

Currently, only Filipino citizens, foreigners joining their Filipino spouses and dependents; and foreign diplomats are allowed to enter the country under existing protocols.

Upon arrival, passengers must undergo swab testing. While waiting for results, passengers must stay either in a government-designated quarantine facility or quarantine hotel.

Payment for the accommodation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be shouldered by the government while other travelers who are non-OFWs will pay for their own accommodation costs.

Travelers whose test positive will be transferred to designated hospitals for treatment, while those with negative results will be allowed to move out and undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or at an appropriate local monitoring facility.

Reports showed that the new coronavirus variant first identified in the UK spreads 70 percent faster.

However, experts believe that existing vaccines will still be effective in fighting off infection from this new virus variant.

UK researchers discovered the variant after collecting samples from infected people in southeastern England.

Since then, Australia, Denmark, and the Netherlands have identified cases of the variant in their countries.

The government is now focusing on the effects of the holiday season on the Covid-19 cases in the country, as some people still hold gatherings, Año pointed out.

Año, meanwhile, bared that some testing laboratories were closed during the holidays, resulting in few reported confirmed Covid-19 cases.

“There were some laboratories that closed during the holidays so we saw a smaller number. Some of them still have yet to submit results. When their operations go full blast, we would know the situation,” he noted. (PNA)

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