AFTER reports from the Department of Health (DOH) on the presence of local cases of the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has called on concerned government authorities to reinforce the country’s response efforts to the pandemic.
The DOH earlier clarified that a ‘local case’ means that the Delta variant was detected from an individual who was not classified as a returning overseas Filipino (ROF). Meanwhile, ‘local transmission’ means there is evidence that such cases are linked together and has spread from one local case to another.
Go warned that although there is still no evidence that the Delta variant has been locally transmitted, the public must remain vigilant and avoid being complacent given the confirmed local cases opens the possibility of local transmissions.
In a radio interview on Saturday, July 17, Go suggested that the Philippine Coast Guard should beef up its maritime patrols, particularly in Mindanao’s backdoor entries, to prevent the spread of the Delta variant, which has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases in neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
“May nagsabi po na four times more contagious o 40% to 60% na nakakahawa itong Delta variant at ‘wag na nating hintayin pang kumalat ito sa ating bansa. Kung maaari po ay paigtingin pa natin ang ating border patrol, lalo na via backdoor sa Mindanao,” said Go.
“Kita niyo ang nangyari sa Indonesia, tumaas ang kaso, magsasara na naman sila. Pag-aaralan din po ng gobyerno ang pagsasara sa mga travel po sa mga bansa na may tumataas na kaso,” he added.
To avoid the spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant, the Philippines recently prohibited visitors from Indonesia. The restriction will be in effect from July 16 to July 31 and will apply to anyone travelling from Indonesia or who has recently visited the country.
In a Bloomberg news report, Indonesia became the new epicenter of the pandemic in Asia after it surpassed the number of new daily cases of India.
Meanwhile, Go stressed that the government could not afford to return to a stricter community quarantine, particularly now that the country’s economy is slowly recovering from the pandemic’s adverse impacts.
“Konting tiis na lang po, maganda ang takbo, may tendency kasi na kapag niluwagan, kumpiyansa na naman. Marami pong kababayan natin ang mawawalan ng trabaho kapag nagsara ang ekonomiya,” he said.
Go reassured the public that once the country achieves population protection and herd immunity, everything will return to normal. That is why he appealed to the public to remain vigilant and cooperate with authorities in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 especially its new variants.
The Senator also echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to allow face-to-face classes in schools for the time being, while vaccination is still ongoing for the rest of the population and until perhaps population protection and eventually herd immunity is attained.
“Si Pangulong Duterte, mas sigurista po ‘yan. Tignan n’yo, face-to-face classes, diretso agad siya, outright ‘no’ agad siya. Ako, ‘no vaccine, no face-to-face classes’,” he said.
“Sa atin dito sa Pilipinas, ‘di pa bakunado ang bata dahil ‘di pa tayo umabot sa bata. What if may magpositibo sa mga bata at magspread ‘yan so sangkatutak na naman ang trabaho ng ating mga government employees, back to scratch na naman tayo, back to zero,” he added.
Go stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, noting that the transmission and severe cases in the National Capital Region has gradually dropped as a result of a considerable increase in vaccinated individuals.
“Habang nandiyan pa po, mag-ingat tayo. Napakahirap po maraming apektado kung pabaya tayo. Tiis pa po tayo. There is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Go.
Go then continued to appeal to individuals who are already in the priority list to take the opportunity to be protected as he emphasized that the vaccines are safe and effective against COVID-19.
“Sa mga kababayan ko, konting tiis lang, alam kong inip na kayo, kami rin po, pagod na pagod na pero kayo po ang nagbibigay lakas sa amin, magtulungan lang tayo para malampasan ang krisis na ito,” he ended.
As of July 16, the country has received a total of 24,788,110 doses of vaccines.
The country set a new record for vaccinations in a single day at least twice this week, when it administered 375,000 COVID-19 doses on Monday and another 391,000 on Thursday.
The country expects to receive a running total of around 50 million COVID-19 jabs from different manufacturers since they first arrived until the end of August.