President Duterte has floated the idea of imposing another lockdown depending on the severity of the new Covid19 variant now raging in the United Kingdom.
During an emergency meeting of the IATF last week, Mr. Duterte said the decision to impose of a lockdown (like the first one in March 2020) will be based on how the new Covid19 strain performs in the Philippine setting.
He clarified that the lockdown is a definite possibility, so if the situation calls for it “then we have to take corrective measures and go back to lockdown.”
He cited the fact that the country still does not have the antidote (or vaccine) to kill the variant, which all but complicates matters.
(As of Dec. 16, 2020, the Center for Strategic & International Studies has the Philippines at 456,562 confirmed cases, second only to Indonesia’s 650,197 cases in the Southeast Asian region).
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously disclosed that experts had discovered a new more infectious strain of the virus that is “maybe up to 70 percent more transmissible than the earlier strain, prompting Mr. Duterte to bar all incoming travelers from Britain until January 14.
Certain medical experts, however, weren’t too keen about the lockdown idea.
Dr. Marissa Alejandria, a member of the Covid19 technical advisory group, was quoted as saying during the same IATF emergency meeting that while the variant could be easily transmissible, the mode of transmission would still be the same.
More importantly, she said there is currently no evidence showing that this variant is more virulent or more severe than the first.
“Mas mabilis lang ang transmission nito pero hindi siya nagko-cause ng mas severe disease which will require more hospitalizations,” she explained.
It has to be noted that these observations were directly opposed to the stand of the IATF bosses who were advocating for a lockdown if the situation calls for it.
Dr. Edsel Salvana, an infectious disease expert connected with the Philippine General Hospital, said there really is no need to overreact to the new Covid variant since the country can now better cope with the virus, compared to before.
He pointed out that the Philippines can adequately respond to the new virus (which supposedly hasn’t yet landed here) based on information culled from other countries which are now dealing with it.
Dr. Socorro Escalante, the PH representative to the World Health Organization (WHO), said a new lockdown is ill-advised.
On the contrary, she said the WHO recommendation is for the government to ensure that public health interventions are in place in order to mitigate the effects of the new disease on the public.
“In the past 9 months…the government has already learned a lot of lessons.”
PHOTO: CNN Philippines