Duterte: Lockdown may be imposed if new coronavirus strain from UK spreads in Philippines
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said there is a possibility of another lockdown if the new coronavirus (COVID-19) strain in the United Kingdom spreads in the country.
In a televised emergency meeting with his Cabinet members, Duterte said imposing a stricter lockdown will depend on the severity in number caused by the new strain.
“Actually, lockdown is a possibility. I said we are making some projections but if the severity in number would demand that we take corrective measures immediately, then we just have to go back to lockdown,” Duterte said.
“When the new strain multiplies and in the meantime that we are not able to confront them effectively, I mean the virus, we’ll just have to… it depends on the severity in number… We do not have the antidote on how to kill those variants. We’re going to have a problem there,” he added.
Earlier reports said a new strain of COVID-19 was found in the United Kingdom which was believed to be more contagious. New strain that is different from the ones in the UK is also found in other places like Sabah in Malaysia, Singapore, and The Netherlands.
As a safety measure, the Philippines has banned flights from the UK supposedly until December 31, but it was extended for another two weeks.
"So the best thing is just to address all problems at the same time. We will treat the new strain as if we are treating the COVID--- that way we treated the COVID. And if it is toxic, virulent as what the doctor says, we will respond accordingly and it might be something like a lockdown if things get worse," Duterte said.
The President said they will have a meeting again to discuss more safeguards in the protocol if the number of people getting infected increases.
"Our job is to protect the people and the nation," Duterte said.
According to Dr. Edsel Salvaña, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at UP-National Institutes of Health (NIH), this is not the first time a new variant is coming to the country.
Salvaña said a new variant, which is three to nine times more infectious from Europe, came in the country which caused the surge of cases last June.
He said the Department of Health (DOH) already has advanced information on new strains unlike before.
“So we know how to deal with these variants and as Secretary (Francisco) Duque (III) has already mentioned, the minimum health standards are the key --- the implementation,” he said.
“So right now, we have advanced information so we are actually prepared so that we can preempt any kind of spike without resulting in drastic measures like lockdown. Hopefully it will not spike that high,” he added.
Last March 17, the government implemented a total lockdown or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon island for a few months to prevent the spread of the virus.
The community quarantine in Metro Manila was eased to general community quarantine (GCQ) in June up to the end of the year.
As of Saturday, there were 469,005 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 431,055 recoveries and 9,067 deaths. Ella Dionisio/DMS