Duterte withdraws order to bring back face-to-face classes, cites concern over new COVID strain

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 26 2020 07:02 PM | Updated as of Dec 26 2020 11:15 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday took back his order to carry out the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes for January 2021, following the discovery of a new strain of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.

The implementation was planned for schools in areas with low risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The Department of Education was already preparing for a dry run, but Duterte ordered Education Sec. Leonor Briones to suspend it.

"I'm calling back the order," the President in a public briefing Saturday.

"I will not allow face-to-face classes of children until we are through with this . . . The nature of the germ we are confronting."

Duterte said the government could be putting students in danger, if they let them go to class.

"I am cancelling the order I gave few days ago, few weeks ago to Sec. Briones of the Education Department to suspend everything, all activities of children especially face-to-face classes," he said.

In an earlier interview, meanwhile, Dr. Tony Leachon, a public health advocate and former member of the national COVID-19 mitigation task force, said the new strain has forced governments to enforce travel restrictions in and out of the United Kingdom.

"Iyan ay variant B117. Bago siyang strain na 52% ang admittance sa UK. At highly transmissible, 50-70%, so ibig sabihin more contagious. Nagcause ng travel ban sa Europe, Canada, sa HK, sa atin dito," Leachon said in an interview on Teleradyo.

"Kakaiba ang profile ng mga pasyente nito. Less than 60, asymptomatic, sila yung gala ng gala. So mas madaling makahawa ngayon. 

"Mas maraming mahahawa, that will lead to more hospitalizaton and admission and therefore, madadali ngayon ang vulnerable segment and will actually cause more deaths."

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