The country must “triple” efforts to prevent the spread of a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus since it cannot afford a “disastrous” second wave of infections, President Duterte declared last Monday.
In a televised address, the President stressed the importance of stricter health regulations after the first pandemic wave has already “depleted” the government’s resources.
Duterte made the remarks after directing authorities to keep the mandatory use of face shields and masks as well as threatening to arrest people who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Health authorities earlier reported an increase in cases of the Delta variant cases in the country and called for intensified border controls to prevent the virus from spreading.
“We must triple our effort because I said, we do not know if it would require a new vaccine, which has to be invented first,” the President said during a televised address Monday, June 21.
“Second, we cannot afford a second wave because it might be far worse than the first, and then we will have a problem of our economy, and I said it would be a disaster for the country,” he added.
Duterte acknowledged the medical experts’ view that the Delta coronavirus stain was “very aggressive” in terms of transmission.
“I will agree with you considering that this D variant is very aggressive and it can proliferate in so much short period of time. We may experience a second wave much more serious than the first,” he said.
“Another one would be disastrous for this country. That is why the stricter you are, the better,” he added.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier announced that local government units have been placed on heightened alert to prevent further entry of the Delta variant. The country earlier reported 17 cases of the contagious variant, first detected in India.
Concerns by the COVID threat, the President has apologized to the nation over the confusion arising from the face shield policy but insisted such protective gear will still be required both indoors and outdoors.
Duterte also threatened to lock up people in jail if they refuse to get inoculated against the coronavirus. He said anti-vaxxers should leave the country or else end up getting arrested or injected with antiparisitic drug used for hugs.
“Kung hindi kayo magpabakuna, umalis kayo sa Pilipinas (If you don’t want to get vaccinated, leave the Philippines). Go to India if you want or somewhere, to America
“But for as long as you are here and you are a human being, and can carry the virus, eh magpabakuna ka (get vaccinated). Otherwise, I will order all the barangay captains to have a tally of the people who refuse to be vaccinated. Kasi ‘pag hindi ‘yong Ivermectin na para sa baboy ang ipatira ko sa iyo (Because if not, I will inject you with Ivermectin used for pigs),” he added.
As of Tuesday, the country has reported more than 1.36 million coronavirus cases, including 52,696 active cases and 23,809 deaths. Most of the additional cases were reportedly due to the case surge in some parts of Mindanao.
Of the estimated 70 million people targeted for vaccination, around 2 million have been fully vaccinated so far.