COVID-19 variant from South Africa being watched closely; no change yet in alert level classification

Published November 26, 2021, 2:17 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang assured the public that the government is actively monitoring developments surrounding the newly discovered “most heavily mutated” variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) first discovered in South Africa.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (PNA / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement following the discovery of the B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19 which is described as “very different” from other variants that have circulated.

In his press briefing on Friday, November 26, the acting presidential spokesman said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are “actively monitoring” the developments.

“We are monitoring any developments on the ground, patuloy pa rin ang ating genomic surveillance (and our genomic surveillance continues),” he said.

“Abangan na lang po natin (Let’s see what will happen). This is a new development and we continue to actively monitor the situation,” he added.

Nograles said the government is prepared to impose strict restrictions if necessary. South Africa is currently on the country’s green list.

“We’re actively monitoring any developments. Kung kinakailangan ng agaran at immediate action ay gagawin po ng IATF (If we have to make immediate actions, expect that the IATF will do that),” he said.

He added that the government is in constant communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the matter.

“Patuloy pa rin yung ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa (We continue to communicate with the) WHO and we await any advisory coming from the WHO, especially kung idi-declare ba itong (if this will be declared as a) variant of interest o variant of concern,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nograles said the recent turn of events will unlikely affect the next Alert Level classification of the different areas in the country.

“Yung Alert Levels System meron po tayong parameters diyan so susundin natin ang parameters (The Alert Levels System has its own parameters and we will follow those parameters),” he said.

He added that the IATF will immediately escalate Alert Level classifications if necessary. De-escalations, meanwhile, take place every 15th and end of the month.

“In terms of escalation, kung kinakailangan ASAP, ASAP agad ‘yan (if it has to be as soon as possible, it will be done as soon as possible),” Nograles said.