DOH: Easing age restrictions anew up to IATF as COVID-19 cases spike

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2021 03:07 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said it is up to the country’s pandemic task force to again revise age restrictions on people allowed to go out, following the spike in new cases and the detection of more patients with the new COVID-19 variant.

The development came after the inter-agency task force leading the country’s COVID-19 response allowed more children to go out of their homes in modified and general community quarantine areas and after 3 minors were reportedly infected by the new COVID-19 variant.

Currently, those aged 10 to 65 are allowed to leave their homes in MGCQ areas.

“Pero sa ngayon na lumalabas na itong variant ay nandito, nakaapekto rin sa 3 kabataan dito sa mga kaso sa ngayon, ang amin pong iniisip baka sakali ay makapagrekomenda tayo na maaari muna tayong hindi magpatupad ng pagpapalabas ng mga bata to prevent more infections,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained during a Laging Handa briefing.

(Now that the variant is here and has infected 3 children already, we are thinking that maybe we could recommend not allowing more children to go out to prevent more infections.)

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“Nevertheless, tayo po ay makikinig sa kung anumang desisyon ng IATF na ibibigay sa atin,” she said.

(But we will listen to the decision of the IATF.)

A public health expert had earlier warned that children could become COVID-19 superspreaders if they are allowed to go out.

Vergeire also expressed concern on the spike in new cases, and said age restrictions would be discussed again at the next meeting with the inter-agency task force.

“Itong mga trends na nakikita natin na tumataas ang mga kaso, at lalo na ngayon may variant and this variant can increase the transmissibility, ang sinasabi ko po, kung mas maiiwasan natin ang paglabas, especially if we have expanded the ages, sana po ay mas mapag-isipan natin ito nang mas mabuti. 'Yan po ang mapag-uusapan sa susunod na IATF meeting,” she said.

(We are seeing the surge in new cases, most especially in the wake of this new variant… What I am saying is if we can prevent ourselves from going out, it is better. We will discuss age restrictions in the next IATF meeting.)

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“Kung hindi kailangan dalhin ang bata sa labas, iwasan po natin ito sa ngayon dahil nakikita po natin na medyo tumataas po ang ating mga kaso and the variant has been detected already in some parts of the country.

(If we do not need to go outside, then let us not go out. New cases are being reported.)

The DOH earlier said that relaxing age restrictions in the capital region as part of further reopening the capital's economy would need approval from mayors.

Metro Manila and 7 other areas are under general community quarantine until the end of January. The rest of the country is under MGCQ, a looser quarantine status.