Govt. may reimpose stricter measures due to Delta variant threat –- Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 20) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the government may reimpose tighter restrictions if the Delta variant continues to spread in the country.

“The reported local cases in the country are a cause for serious alarm and concern…We may need to reimpose stricter restrictions to avoid mass gatherings and prevent super spreader events,” said Duterte during his weekly address.

The country has so far recorded 35 Delta variant cases, including 11 locally acquired cases, according to the Department of Health. Three have died while the rest have recovered.

READ: 'Recovered' local case becomes nation's 3rd Delta variant death

Duterte said some Asian countries have already imposed tougher lockdowns as they battle against a severe COVID-19 outbreak driven by the more infectious Delta variant. Currently, only nine areas in the Philippines are placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine.

READ: Dozens die in Indonesia hospital with oxygen shortage, as Delta variant sweeps the country

“I hope that our existing infrastructure in dealing with the problem of COVID-19 can cope up,” said Duterte.

The COVID-19 variant first detected in India is said to be the most transmissible and linked to increased hospitalization.

The government has already imposed a travel ban on India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates and Oman.

With the threat of the Delta variant, Duterte urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police to properly implement existing health protocols.

“I urge the DILG and the PNP to implement existing protocols with greater urgency and necessity. It is only by imposing these restrictions that we can fight the threat of Delta variant,” he said.

Duterte also told local government units to heighten their vaccination campaign.

“You must get the vaccine or you die,” he said. “Kung ayaw niyo talagang maniwala, eh di ‘wag muna kayo lumabas ng bahay para wala kayong mahawa (If you don’t believe in vaccines, then you must not go outdoors in the meantime so you will not infect others).”