The Philippines could be in “serious trouble” if the country’s coronavirus cases would soar to millions, President Duterte admitted Monday night.
The President said the county’s infections have already reached more than 500,000 and continued to rise based on government’s health records.
“We continue to pray. Kami dito kasi it’s still rising. Umabot na ng more than 500[,000] ang tinamaan (We continue to pray because it is still rising. More than 500,000 have been infected),” he said in a televised address.
“I hope it would not reach millions because then we would be in serious trouble. We would be no better than the other countries whose rise is really exponential,” he said
The President also raised the possibility of using “draconian measures” such as forcing people to stay at home to curb the transmission of the deadly virus. He, however, recognized the adverse impact of stringent movement restrictions on the economy and livelihood of the people.
“When people are dying on the streets then maybe I could use the draconian measures of telling everybody to stay put inside their houses. Ang problema is how to sustain ‘yung mga wala –\ ‘yung isang tuka, isang kahig; isang kahig, isang tuka (The problem is how to sustain those living hand to mouth),” he said.
He said the government could address the daily needs of the poor but expressed concern that such strict stay-at-home rule could “kill the economy because nobody’s working.” “Again, we’d go back to the non-productivity of the economy. Walang nagtatrabaho, walang output, walang nagbabayad, walang nagbebenta, at lahat na (No one will work, no output, no one will buy, no one will sell),” he added.
As the nation faced the “dangerous times,” Duterte made a fresh appeal to the public to observe health protocols such as proper wearing of masks and safe distancing, especially with the detection of the new coronavirus variant in the country.
“The only salvation for those who have not been sick with COVID-19 and pending the rollout of the vaccine is really that you follow the protocol imposed by government,” he said.
“Pag sinunod ninyo ‘yan (If you follow those), then you’ll have great chances of not getting it or at least when you get it, there’s a bakuna (vaccine) then it will somehow mitigate the, give you the relief,” he added.
Duterte assured the nation that the coronavirus vaccines would soon arrive in the country. “It’s still dangerous. Follow the protocols of preventing it if at all and hopefully wait for the rollout of the vaccine. Malapit na po (It’s coming soon),” he said.
As of Jan. 25, the country has recorded 514,996 cases of coronavirus with 10,292 deaths. Authorities have also reported several more cases of the new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom since it was first detected from a Filipino traveler abroad two weeks ago.