Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. reiterated the importance of enhanced surveillance to detect the new variant of COVID-19 in the country stressing the important role of local government units.
“Binigyan din ni Presidente ang kahalagahan ng enhanced surveillance para ma-detect ang new strain at sinabing may malaking papel dito ang lokal na pamahalaan, partikular ang mga mayor at mga barangay captains,” said Secretary Roque during his press briefing at the People’s Television Network (PTV) Cordillera in Baguio City.
Aside from this, the recommendation of Dr. Jaime Montoya of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development to strengthen genomics surveillance was also approved by President Duterte.
“Kasama sa target sequencing ng high-risk groups ang clusters ng may matataas na kaso at clusters ng mayroong increased severity at deaths,” said Secretary Roque.
“Sinabi rin ng Presidente ang kanyang suhestiyon na magkaroon ng isang panel na nakatutok at pag-aralan ang COVID-19 new variant,” added Sec Roque.
Accordingly, several measures were also approved to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus variant in the country, including the proposal from Roque himself to extend for another two weeks the ban on travelers from the United Kingdom, which was supposed to end on December 31, 2020.
“Sa ngayon po ang nadesisyunan ay yung two-week extension…pero this is without prejudice naman po na pagbawalan din yung pagdating nung mga pasahero galing po sa mga ibang bansa na mayroon ng bagong variant,” said Sec. Roque.
As part of the approved recommendations to the President, all travelers who will come from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and other countries where the new variant of COVID-19 have been reported, will have to undergo a strict 14-day mandatory quarantine. There will also be travel restrictions to countries where there are reported local transmissions of the new COVID-19 strain.
“Gaya ng sinabi ko po, this is without prejudice naman po, pero sa ngayon po, sa lahat ng mga bansa na mayroon ng nakapasok [na new strain], nag-iimpose po tayo ng 14-day quarantine, mandatory po yan, kahit ano pang resulta ng PCR test,” underscored Roque.
In the same meeting, the President also approved the recommendation to send all specimens that have tested positive from travelers from the UK to the Philippine Genome Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and University of the Philippines National Institutes for Health for genome sequencing,” said Roque.
Also approved was the recommendation of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara to fast-track the issuance of Implementing Rules and Regulations of Executive Order No. 122 that will strengthen border control through an Advanced Passenger Information System.
Because of the possible threat of the new strain of COVID-19, President Duterte cancelled the implementation of pilot face-to-face classes scheduled in January 2021. ### OPS-PCOO