New COVID strain may cause holiday surge to worsen if it enters PH: expert

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 23 2020 08:41 AM | Updated as of Dec 23 2020 09:24 AM

New COVID strain may cause holiday surge to worsen if it enters PH: expert 1
Christmas decorations adorn a mall in Makati as shoppers walk along on December 18, 2020, a few days before Christmas. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The more infectious new COVID-19 variant may worsen the Philippines' holiday surge if it enters the country, an infectious disease expert said Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the suspension of flights from the UK to the Philippines from Dec. 24, 12:01 a.m. until Dec. 31, Malacañang said.

The new strain found in the UK is distinct from the G614 variant that the Philippines last recorded several months ago, said Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of the adult infectious diseases unit at San Lazaro Hospital.

Both have increased transmissibility, he added.

"Ang pangamba natin 'pag ang isang tao nahawaan ng ganitong strain mas mabilis niyang mahahawa ito sa tao rin," said Solante.

(What we fear is that if a person gets infected by this strain, he or she can quickly spread this to others)

"Ang pangamba natin 'pag ang isang tao nahawaan ng ganitong strain mas mabilis niyang mahahawa ito sa tao rin," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We fear that if a person is infected with this strain they will easily transmit it to others.)

"Kung titingnan natin kung ano ang ginagawa ng ibang bansa, it's just more of a preventive measure dahil ang impact nito you will really have a wider spread of the infection, mas mabilis especially in this time of the year na yung family and social gathering na di natin maiiwasan. There will be a higher tendency na mataas talaga ang risk na tumataas ang kaso because of this particular strain."

(If we look at what other countries are doing, it's just more of a preventive measure as the variant's impact is it will cause a wider, faster spread of the infection during this time of year where social gatherings cannot be avoided. There's a higher tendency that cases will rise because of this particular strain.)

A COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila has begun as Christmas neared, the OCTA Research Group earlier warned as it identified areas of concern.

"Ang pinaka-important pa rin dito is (the most important thing is) the surveillance, I agree testing is important so we can get a better idea kung saan area na mataas ang transmission (which areas have a higher transmission)," he said.

"Paalala pa rin natin sa kanila na (We should remind the public that) at this point in time as much as possible if you can postpone gatherings, reunion, that will be more important for us para lang makita natin by January or February 'di tataas ang mga kaso natin (so our cases will not rise by January or February)."

The Philippines as of Tuesday reported 462,815 COVID-19 cases, with 24,375 active infections.

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