President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday raised the idea of reinstating stricter nationwide lockdown as part of the government’s effort to prevent the entry of a new strain of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from the UK to the Philippines.
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On December 14, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that London will return to a strict lockdown starting that week after coronavirus cases soared in the British capital. London was subsequently placed under a strict lockdown to the “very high” tier 3.
COVID-19 UK Variant: Another Lockdown A Possibility, Says Duterte
In an emergency meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and infectious diseases experts held at the Malacañang Palace in Manila, Duterte floated the idea of a possible lockdown in relation to the up and coming issue with the new COVID-19 UK variant, the Philippine News Agency reported.
“Actually, ‘yung (the reimposition of another national) lockdown is a possibility. I said we’re making some projection. But if the severity in numbers would demand that we take corrective measures immediately, then we just have to go back to lockdown,” Duterte said.
He explained that the decision would be based depending on the “severity on the number” of cases of the new variant of the SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes Covid-2019.
“It depends on the severity of the number. Kasi kapag marami na (If the cases rise) and we do not have the antidote on how to kill those variants, we’ll have a problem there and of course, we’ll also be hard-pressed on looking for the money for the expenses in the meantime. Magastos iyan (That will be costly),” Duterte explained.
The British government has imposed tougher measures after it discovered the new strain of Covid-19, which could be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the previous variants.
As of December 27, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that 28,883 active COVID-19 cases and 431,055 recoveries. It also reported five new deaths, bringing the total to 9,067.
In line with the emerging threat of the new coronavirus strain, Duterte highlighted the need to secure the country’s borders to prevent the possible entry of the new COVID-19 strain.
“What is very important is really to control the entry of people, whether or not they have in their bodies already the virus. That’s another thing. But kailangan nating i-control yung borders natin (it is important that we control our borders),” he added.
Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who was present at the meeting, added that the situation in the country is “manageable”.
“Our situation in the country is manageable if we are looking at the local Covid situation. What we have to really guard or to watch out is the international borders because the new strain is coming from those identified countries,” he said.
Año, however, also pointed out that there is a need to monitor UK and other countries with reported cases of the new Covid-19 strain.
And in line with the growing concerns over the spread of a new variant of Covid-19, Duterte has initially approved the IATF-EID’s resolution that bans Philippines flights from the UK from December 24 to 31.
On Saturday, Duterte also approved the recommendation of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to extend the travel ban for another two weeks.
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