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President Rodrigo Duterte is now eyeing the reimposition of stricter quarantine protocols amid the increasing local cases of the Delta variant of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, according to a report by BusinessMirror.
In his public address late Monday, Duterte expressed concern over how the variant caused a surge in Covid-19 cases in several countries including India and Indonesia.
The Delta variant is said to be 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha Variant of SARS-CoV-2.
Health officials said there are currently 36 cases of Delta variants detected in the country, although they admitted this could be higher since the government’s surveillance capacity for new variants remain limited. The national genome center only tests randomly for variants.
“We may need to reimpose stricter restrictions to avoid mass gathering and prevent super-spreader events,” Duterte said.
Prompted by the instruction from Duterte, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced it will be coming up with guidelines for local government units (LGU) to prepare for the possible spread of the Delta variant.
“In the coming days, the DILG will come out with a memorandum to remind local government units to prepare as soon as possible a strategy [to fight] the local transmission of the Covid Delta variant,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
The measures includes tightening border controls in international airports and seaports as well as intensifying vaccination, contact-tracing, testing, isolation efforts for suspected Covid patients among others.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will meet on Thursday to further discuss the stricter quarantine protocols, particularly for interzonal travel and localized lockdowns.
Densing said concerned LGUs will be consulted on the crafting of such measures.
Duterte approved earlier this month several measures to ease quarantine restrictions, which included reducing documentary requirements for fully vaccinated people as well as allowing children 5 and above to finally go outside of their homes.
Keeping children at home
LGUs, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR), also expressed alarm over the Delta variant after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that a person in Manila was infected with it.
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benjamin Abalos said the incident prompted NCR mayors to ask the IATF to suspend the policy allowing those in the 5 to 17 age group to go outside of their homes.
“Maybe it could be suspended in Metro Manila since there is a case [of Delta variant] and there is also increasing [Covid-19] cases here. This is because those in the 5 to 17 [age group] are still not vaccinated and they are the possible super spreaders,” Abalos said.
Vaccine Expert Panel member Dr. Rontgene Solante backed the mayors’ appeal.
He noted while children have a lower risk of getting Covid-19, the could still serve as carriers of the virus when they go home.
“That is the danger there if we continue allowing them outside while there is still the Delta variant,” Solante said in an interview with PTV last Tuesday.