IATF to tackle new Covid-19 strain in UK in next meeting

MANILA, Dec 22 (Mabuhay) — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will be discussing efforts to prevent the entry of a new strain of coronavirus emerging in the United Kingdom (UK), Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after more nations have started imposing travel bans on the UK after it reported a more-infectious coronavirus variant.

“Pag-uusapan pa po ‘yan sa IATF. Pero sa ngayon po in place pa naman yung ating mga protocols para sa lahat ng pumapasok ng Pilipinas, kasama po ang mandatory quarantine habang inaantay po ang resulta ng kanilang [polymerase chain reaction] tests (That will be discussed by the IATF. At present, our protocols for all those entering the Philippines is still in place, including mandatory quarantine while waiting for results of their PCR tests),” he said in a press briefing from Davao City.

Currently, only Filipino citizens, foreigners joining their Filipino spouses and dependents; and foreign diplomats are allowed to enter the country under existing protocols.

Upon arrival, passengers must undergo PCR Covid-19 testing. While waiting for results, passengers must stay either in a government-designated quarantine facility or quarantine hotel.

Payment for the accommodation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be shouldered by the government while other travelers who are non-OFWs will pay for their own accommodation costs.

Travelers whose test positive will be transferred to designated hospitals for treatment, while those with negative results will be allowed to move out and undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or at an appropriate local monitoring facility.

Reports showed that the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK was spreading 70 percent faster than others.

However, experts said that it is likely that a vaccine would need to be developed to keep up with new strains.

UK researchers discovered the variant after collecting samples from infected people in southeastern England.

Since then, Australia, Denmark, and the Netherlands have identified cases of the variant in their countries.

No holiday MECQ in Metro Manila

Meanwhile, Roque dismissed as fake the news rumors that Metro Manila reverted to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) last Dec. 19 until the end of the year or that there would be more stringent lockdowns from Dec. 23 until Jan. 3, 2021.

“Bente uno na po ngayon, [general community quarantine] pa rin po ang buong Kamaynilaan (It’s already Dec. 21 and the whole of Metro Manila is still under GCQ),” he said.

Roque said Duterte is expected to announce the next quarantine classifications on January 2021.

Besides Metro Manila, the provinces of Davao del Norte, Batangas, and Lanao del Sur, and cities of Iloilo, Tacloban, Iligan, and Davao will remain under GCQ until Dec. 31.

All other places in the country will be under the most relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

As of Sunday, confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines are nearing 460,000. Globally, more than 75 million have been infected with the virus. (MNS)

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