News Release

President Duterte cancels in-person classes amid fears over new COVID-19 strain

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte went back to Manila a day after Christmas to meet selected members of his Cabinet along with infectious disease experts. The emergency meeting, held in Malacañang Palace on December 26,2020, was convened to discuss the emerging fast-spreading new variant of Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease found in the United Kingdom. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte went back to Manila a day after Christmas to meet selected members of his Cabinet along with infectious disease experts. The emergency meeting, held in Malacañang Palace on December 26,2020, was convened to discuss the emerging fast-spreading new variant of Coronavirus (Covid-19) disease found in the United Kingdom. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Saturday has recalled the implementation of the face-to-face classes in select areas in county following the emergence of a more infectious variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the UK.

“I have allowed kasi the face-to-face classes as pilot projects all over the country,” President Duterte said in a meeting with Cabinet officials and infectious disease experts in Malacanang.

“With the new strain, true or not, maybe it’s true because it’s being validated in Germany and South Africa, UK, eh ‘yung order ko noon kay Secretary Leonor Briones that she can… If she is here, I’m calling back the order and I will not allow face-to-face classes of children until we are through with this.”

“We have to, I said, we have to know the nature of the germ that we are confronting. Wala pa tayong alam and I cannot take the risk of allowing the children. That would be a disaster actually.”

The President has earlier approved the trial run of the face-to-face classes in areas considered at low risk for COVID-19 to be implemented next year.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said the proposal involves pilot implementation or dry run of face-to-face classes in select schools in areas with minimal risk from COVID-19 for the whole month of January.

British authorities announced stricter restrictions in their country after the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19, which they said is 70 percent more transmissible than the earlier strain.

The Philippines has already imposed travel ban on the UK to prevent the new COVID-19 strain from entering the country. Philippine authorities proposed to extend the restriction in January next year. PND