DESPITE the Department of Health (DOH) announcing that the Philippines still remains free from the new Covid-19 variant, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said that this should not be used as an excuse to slack on our pandemic response efforts, particularly on contact tracing.
“Huwag nating ulitin ang mga pagkukulang natin last year. January pa lang last year, nanawagan na tayo ng preemptive ban sa mga bumibiyahe mula Wuhan at matinding contact-tracing para sa mga nandito na. Kailangang natuto na tayo at huwag nang magpapetiks-petiks pa para hindi kumalat ang sinasabing bagong variant ng Covid-19 (We must not repeat our mistakes last year. As early as January 2020, one year ago, we were already calling for a preemptive ban on travelers from Wuhan and an intensive contract-tracing effort for those who are already here. We should have already learned from that and not slack on our efforts to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 variant),” Pangilinan said.
The DOH announced on Wednesday that the B.1.1.7 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, first reported in the United Kingdom, has not yet been detected in the country from samples gathered in November and December of last year.
This is amid speculations that the new variant is already in the Philippines after authorities in Hong Kong detected the B.1.1.7 variant from a 30-year-old female resident who returned to Hong Kong from Manila on December 22.
“We call for a clarity of messages. Syempre ang unang iisipin ng ating mga mamamayan, dahil dito ang pinanggalingan ng bagong Covid positive na pasyente sa Hong Kong, ibig sabihin meron na rin dito sa Pilipinas noong bagong variant. Kailangang linawin ito ng maigi ng DOH at ire-assure ang ating mga kababayan,” Pangilinan said.
“Bottomline is we must remain vigilant. We are still reporting around a thousand cases each day. Malalaman din natin sa susunod na mga araw kung ano ang epekto ng holiday rush sa taas ng ating mga kaso. May virus pa po. Pandemya pa rin. Patuloy pa rin, at dapat mas pag-igihin pa, ang contact tracing,” he added.
As of January 5, the Philippines has reported 479,694 Covid-19 cases.
Pangilinan in December called for the Senate to convene the Committee of the Whole to look into the country’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
The Committee of the Whole is expected to convene Monday next week.