Gov’t urged to close borders to UK travelers due to new COVID-19 strain

MANILA, Dec 22 (Mabuhay) — A public health expert on Tuesday urged government to close its borders to the United Kingdom following the discovery of a new strain of COVID-19.

The Philippines can implement border control for a week and wait for the World Health Organization’s statement, according to Dr. Tony Leachon, a former adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19.

“I think tama ang ginawa ng Europa na mag-border control muna para ma-contain ang bagong strain na ito at abangan natin sa susunod na mga araw kung ano ang sasabihin ng WHO,” he said.

“Kailangan po nating gawin yun kasi baka tayo matakasan katulad nung nangyari 11 months ago,” he added, referring to when the Philippines initially refused to ban Chinese nationals from entering the country after the novel coronavirus emerged in Wuhan City.

The new strain of virus has around 70 percent transmissibility rate, Leachon said.

“Pareho pa rin ang armas na gagamitin natin, ito pa rin ang face mask, face shield at social distancing,” he said.

Leachon added that it would be hard to fight both the virus’ old and new strains at once.

“Tingin ko dapat mag-declare tayo kasi unang-una ang liit lang naman ng 1 week para malugi tayo from the tourism industry na manggagaling sa UK,” he said.

“Kumpara naman na sa downward trajectory na tayo and then di pa tayo nakaka-order ng bakuna, magkaroon tayo ng bagong strain. Mahirap pong lumaban sa old strain at saka sa new strain.”

Leachon also warned that virus transmission might increase in January and February due to colder temperature.

“Ang virus transmission po mas matindi po ‘pag malamig ang panahon, yan po ang nangyari sa Europa,” he said, noting that the Philippines recorded its first COVID-19 case end of January.

A COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila has begun ahead of the holidays, the OCTA Research Group warned as it urged the public to observe minimum health standards.

The Philippines as of Monday reported 461,505 cases of COVID-19, with 23,341 active infections. (MNS)

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