SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go said that President Rodrigo Duterte has called for an emergency meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, economic managers, and health experts to study the country’s planned stricter border control and other measures to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
“Dahil sa banta ng pagkalat ng Delta variant cases ng COVID-19 sa bansa, nananawagan ako sa gobyerno na magsagawa ng agarang aksyon upang mapaigting lalo ang mga existing health and safety protocols natin,” said Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, in a statement.
The tighter border controls are in response to the Department of Health’s recent confirmation that there is already local transmission of the more contagious variant in the country.
“May kumpirmasyon na ang DOH (Department of Health) na meron ng local transmission ng Delta variant sa Pilipinas. Sinabi ko na ‘yan noon noong ‘local cases’ pa lang na mag-ingat tayo lalo dahil malaki talaga ang possibility ng local transmission,” said Go.
As the government continues to balance its health and economic goals, Go warned Filipinos to be cautious of the virus. He also emphasized that the government’s top objective is to save lives.
“Mag-ingat po tayo, ‘wag po tayong magkumpiyansa. Kailangan po namin ni Pangulong Duterte ang tulong, kooperasyon at disiplina ng bawat mamamayanang Pilipino.,” said Go.
To prevent the spread of the disease throughout the country, the government announced on Friday that Thailand and Malaysia will now be included in its travel ban. It has already restricted visitors from Indonesia and most parts of South Asia and the Middle East.
If the coronavirus spreads as quickly as it has in the previous months, Duterte floated the possibility of closing the Philippine borders. The country, according to the President, can no longer afford another wave of COVID-19 cases. The DOH has reported that hospital occupancy rates in the National Capital Region are rising.
Go also said he talked to Duterte about beefing up border patrols not just at major airports and seaports, but at other entry points into the country, including the backdoor border in Mindanao.
“Patuloy rin ang pagmo-monitor ng sitwasyon sa ibang bansa kaya nag-i-implement tayo ng stricter travel restrictions sa mga galing sa high risk countries, tulad ng Indonesia, Malaysia at Thailand,” Go said.
According to Go, the country’s health protocols, which include testing, contact tracing, and isolation, among other components, must be tightened. “Dito naman sa atin, dapat mas higpitan ang pagpapatupad ng mga kasalukuyang health and safety protocols, katulad ng tamang pagsusuot ng mask at face shield, palaging paghuhugas ng kamay, pagsunod sa social distancing at hindi paglabas ng bahay kung hindi naman kinakailangan.”
In order to address the number of daily new COVID-19 cases in the country, particularly in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, concerned agencies are speeding up the establishment of medical facilities equipped with COVID-19 isolation facilities and critical care unit beds, added the Senator.
“Patuloy ring pinapalakas ng gobyerno ang ating COVID-19 response measures, tulad ng pagtataas ng kapasidad ng ating healthcare facilities, pagdadagdag ng mga ICU beds, pamamahagi ng life-saving medicines and equipment at dagdag na pasilidad para sa isolation at COVID-19 care units,” assured the Senator.
Go also reiterated that the government must speed up the country’s national vaccination program. “Mas bilisan din ang vaccine rollout upang mas maraming mga Pilipino ang mabibigyan ng kaukulang proteksyon gamit ang bakuna,” said Go.
“Patuloy naman po ang pagdating ng mga supply sa ating bansa. Sa ngayon, may higit 29 million doses na tayo at inaaasahang madadagdagan pa ito,” he added.
Go renewed his call to his fellow Filipinos to get their vaccines, particularly those included in the priority list of the national vaccination program.
“Kaya sa mga kababayan ko, kapag oras n’yo nang magpabakuna ayon sa ating vaccination guidelines, pag nasa priority list na po kayo, huwag nang mag-alinlangan pa! Magtiwala po kayo sa bakuna. Huwag po kayong matakot sa bakuna. Ang bakuna po ang tanging susi o solusyon ngayon upang unti-unti tayong makabalik sa ating normal na pamumuhay, at makamtan natin ang population protection at herd immunity,” he said.