Duque: Stricter community quarantine not yet warranted despite detection of new COVID-19 variant

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — There is no need for the country to revert to a stricter community quarantine at the moment despite the detection of the new coronavirus variant, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says.

Duque said in the Laging Handa briefing on Thursday that a tightening of quarantine measures is not yet necessary based on benchmarks on the daily attack rates, and two-week growth rate recorded by the department.

“Ayan ang mag huhudyat... to increase the community quarantine status.”

[Translation: That will be the signal... to increase the community quarantine status.]

Duque added that experts are continually monitoring the data analytics of cases and will recommend necessary adjustments in relation to quarantine protocols to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Pero sa ngayon, wala pa po tayong hudyat o signal para magtaas ng ating kasalukuyang community quarantine,” he said.

[Translation: At the moment, there is no signal for us to tighten the present community quarantine.]

The Health chief noted that local government units are free to implement localized lockdowns if deemed necessary.

The DOH, together with the Philippine Genome Center, confirmed on Wednesday that the B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 variant, also known as the UK variant, has been detected from a Filipino who returned home from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 7.

Duque said on Thursday that the inclusion of UAE in the travel ban will be immediately recommended to the IATF.