Filipinos in UK concerned but ‘resilient’ amid threat of new COVID-19 variant- consul

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 26 2020 09:55 AM | Updated as of Dec 26 2020 10:00 AM

Pedestrians walk past a British government health information advertisement highlighting new restrictions amid the spread of COVID-19, London, December 19, 2020. Toby Melville, Reuters

MANILA - The threat of a new variant of COVID-19 continues to cause fear among many in the United Kingdom, including Filipinos, but the Philippine Embassy in London said they are following guidelines against its possible spread especially during the holiday season.

“Of course maraming pangamba because the new variant is 70 percent more transmissible according to the science expert of UK. Ang ating mga kababayan are very resilient at nakikinig sa mga utos at safety precautions ng UK government,” said Consul General Arlene Macaisa.

(Of course there are a lot of concerns because the new variant is 70 percent more transmissible according to the science expert of UK. Filipinos are very resilient and they listen to the order and safety precautions of the UK government.)

UK scientists have identified a new variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, more established variants.

Initial studies of the new variant prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tighten restrictions over Christmas, and spurred officials in the Netherlands, Germany and other European countries to ban travel from the UK.

The Philippine government also suspended flights from the UK from Dec. 24 to 31 though the new variant is not yet detected in the country.

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She said the plan of many Filipinos to return home for the holidays has taken a backseat for now even if they have already booked their flights.

“Ang pangamba lang nila, hindi nila makakasama ang mga mahal nila sa buhay and friends nila during the holidays,” Macaisa said in an interview on TeleRadyo Saturday morning.

(They are worried because they won’t be able to spend the holidays with their families and friends.)

But the Consul General said Filipinos there are used to this because of the lockdowns in the previous months.

“'Yung mga kababayan natin nagpaabot sila ng Christmas greetings via Zoom, via messenger and nag-get-together sila via technology. Buti mayroon na ngayon kasi kung hindi, isolated talaga ang ating mga kababayan,” she said.

(Filipinos sent Christmas greetings via Zoom, via messenger and held virtual get-togethers. It's a good thing that we have something like that now otherwise they would have been isolated.)

Christmas in London is far from what it used to be, she said, as they are under a level 5 lockdown.

“No shops open, walang tao sa labas. Nag-iingat sila kasi 70 percent transmissible rate napakataas nun although ang virulence ng virus di naman daw mas grabe kesa dati pero ang transmission sobrang taas, lumulobo ang mga na-iinfect,” she said.

(No shops [are] open, no people outside. They are being cautious because the virus is 70 percent transmissible, that’s too high, although the virulence is not worse than before.)

The embassy is also monitoring the number of infections and noted that some Filipino nurses have been infected by the new variant. But, she said, the recovery rate is much faster than before.
 
She added that London’s infection rate is now at 30,000 to 35,000 a day.

The embassy continues to appeal to Filipinos to heed government’s advice and stay at home.

“Stay put lang muna. Makinig sa mga payo at mga advice on security, on COVID-19 sa UK government because napaka-sound naman ng kanilang advice. Stay home and stay safe,” she said.

(Just stay put for now. Heed the UK government's advice on security because it's very sound. Stay home and stay safe.)

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