Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday called for sustained vigilance and contact tracing efforts from the government despite the absence of the new COVID-19 variant in the country.
“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 in a statement.
The Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday that the B.1.1.7 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, discovered in the United Kingdom, has not yet been detected in the country.
The statement came amid reports that a 30-year-old Hong Kong resident had tested positive for COVID-19 after flying home from Manila last December 22.
Pangilinan also called for “clarity” in the DOH’s messaging to address confusion and reassure Filipinos on the country’s COVID-19 situation.
“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 (We have yet to know in the coming days the effect of the holiday rush to our current number of cases). May virus pa po (The virus is still here). Pandemya pa rin (We are still under a pandemic). Patuloy pa rin, at dapat mas pag-igihin pa, ang contact tracing (The contact tracing should be sustained and improved),” he appealed.
As of 4 p.m. of January 6, the Philippines has recorded a total of 480, 737 COVID-19 cases; 9,347 of them died from the disease, while, 448, 700 have recovered.
The government has imposed a temporary travel ban on travelers coming from the UK and at least 20 other countries where cases of the more contagious B.1.1.7 infection have been reported.