MMDA Chair appeals to parents: Keep kids at home

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos Jr. encouraged parents Tuesday, July 20, to keep their children at home amid the lingering threat of the Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

KIDS swim at the famous beach front in Boracay Island when the country’s most famous beach destination reopened to local tourists in October 2020. (Tara Yap)

Abalos made the appeal after he confirmed that the Metropolitan Manila Council, composed of all mayors in Metro Manila, formally requested the Inter-Agency Task Force(IATF) to suspend the relaxation of pandemic restriction that allows minors aged five to 17 years old in outdoor areas in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

"Sa mga magulang po na nakikinig, sana po mauwaan niyo na hindi pa po natin ganap na alam kung anong magiging epekto nito sa atin kung kaya't minabuti po ng ating mga alkalde na temporarily baka pwede isuspinde muna ng IATF nang sa gayon ay mapag-aralan nang maigi (To the parents listening, I hope you understand that we still don't know what its effect to us will be so all the mayors requested the IATF to temporarily suspend the and study the situation well)," Abalos said in a radio interview over DZMM.

Abalos said that while the IATF has yet to respond to the request of Metro Manila mayors, the parents of children should take the initiative to protect their children by keeping them at home.

"Kamukha ng sinabi ni Presidente, very aggressive itong Delta variant, very infectious (Just like what President said, the Delta variant is very aggressive and very infections)," he stated.

A single person infected with the Delta variant can infect up to eight persons, far more contagious than the original strain from Wuhan, China which can infect up to two persons per single case.

Abalos also mentioned that the risk for children are greater since they are still not allowed for vaccination.

"Alam naman natin pwede ring magspread ang mga bata sa kanilang mga bahay. Sa amin pong talaan, talagang tumaas ang kaso sa NCR (We all know that children can also spread the birus in their households. In our tally, the cases in NCR really increased)," he bared.

The MMDA chief said the easing of restriction may be reimplemented after one or two weeks if the situation in Metro Manila remains unchanged, or the number of cases see a downward trend.

"After one or two weeks, wala naman pong problema ibalik natin kung pwede. Pero sa panahon pong ito na simula, ito po ang pinaka-critical sa lahat (We have no problem if they will bring it back after one or two weeks. But right now that we are starting to see its effects, this is the most critical part)," Abalos noted.

Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) detected 16 new cases of Delta variant in the country, including 11 cases that were transmitted locally.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that eight individuals who had been tagged as "recovered" from the Delta variant yielded positive results anew when they were re-tested.

Of these cases, one was found in Manila, four in Cagayan de Oro, one in Misamis Oriental, and two were returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

Abalos said intense contact tracing efforts were being conducted to locate where the single case of Delta variant in Manila got the disease.

"Ito pong contact tracing ay ginagawa ng DOH at inaalam nilang maigi, hinahanap pa natin 'yong isa kung saan ang pinagmulan. Hindi nila matala kung galing abroad o ano (The contact tracing is being done by the DOH and they are really looking at the origin of the single case. They cannot determine if its from abroad or what)," he said.

"I-assume na lang natin na habgn inaantay natin dahil nagmamdali po tayo, na locally transmitted na ito (While waiting for them, let's just assume that it is locally transmitted since we are racing against time)," he added.