President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said the imposition of lockdown is possible if the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, which was already detected in the country, spreads further.
“It is rampaging now in Indonesia, Thailand, India, and many parts of Asia. And ang sabi doon sa — the Western medicine says that it is far more aggressive and far more dangerous and it can cause death easily than the COVID-19 original,” the President said in his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
“If it is really dangerous, you have to go back to lockdown. If there are many people in other parts of the world killing as many, then Delta, if ever it will spread — we have it here now — I hope it will not go any further.”
“But if something wrong happens, I’ll have to be strict and I have now my word that there will be a… Just like what happened in the early days.”
But the President said he still does not know the next step and he will wait for the advice of the task force assessing government response to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, President Duterte recognized the contributions of Congress for the passage of 13 measures establishing new health facilities and improving the capacity of existing hospitals around the country to provide quality care and services, especially amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
These include establishing new medical facilities in Mandaluyong City, Bacolod and Davao Occidental; increasing bed capacities of existing health facilities in Quezon City, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Palawan; and upgrading health facilities in that area to include Leyte.
The President also reported strides in ramping up the government’s testing capacity. The country has more than 260 accredited laboratories nationwide capable of conducting at least 50,000 tests daily.
All regions also now can conduct their own COVID-19 tests, according to the President.
To take care of mild and asymptomatic cases, the government established over 9,000 temporary treatment and monitoring facilities across the country, with a total bed capacity of more than 140,000.
Together with local governments and the private sector, mega quarantine facilities were established, accommodating more cases. Modular hospitals and quarantine facilities have also been out up nationwide, especially in Metro Manila.
For severe COVID-19 cases, the President said tireless healthcare workers ensure that people are provided with the best care round the clock, based on latest developments and global best practices. Health experts also continue to actively participate in the search for safe and effective COVID-19 medicines.
In the government’s mass immunization drive against COVID-19, President Duterte said the country already received over 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
“We expect to receive at least 36 million vaccines this month and in August. We have inoculated more than 17 million Filipinos around 11 million of which have received their first dose,” he said.
With the continuous arrival of COVID-19 jabs, the chief executive said the government is ready to boost further its daily vaccination rate. He encouraged local government units to hasten their vaccine roll out and strengthen their respective inoculation programs.
Although the existing health and safety protocols have proven to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus, he said the best solution is still vaccination.
“That is why I implore our countrymen who are now in the list of sectors to be inoculated to get vaccinated now. To those who received their first doses, please return for your second shot,” he stressed.
“I also ask for patience to those who are next in line to receive their vaccine. More and more COVID-19 vaccines are arriving each week and you will soon have your turn.” PND