WHO warns PH against imposing MGCQ amid new COVID variants, vaccine delays

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Commuters wear protective face masks as they queue to get into a train amid new cases of coronavirus in Manila, Philippines, March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The Philippines might possibly experience an upsurge in coronavirus cases if there will be a nationwide imposition of the most relaxed quarantine restriction instead of targeted measures amid the threat of new variants while the country’s vaccination program has yet to start, said the World Health Organization on Thursday.

“If we now go for large-scale relaxation of measures given the current existing situation and the circulation of variants and the fact it’ll still be many months before a large proportion of Filipinos are vaccinated, we may witness a situation where there’ll be an upsurge of cases and the overwhelming of the health (care system),” WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said during a briefing.

Abeyasinghe pointed out that COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, including the National Capital Region, is still “plateauing.” This was his response when asked to weigh in on NEDA’s recommendation to place the country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and to reopen cinemas and other establishments by March.

“It has not flattened yet and so we still need to be conscious of the fact that there is relatively high level of transmission in the community and that the situation is also complicated by the presence of new variants,” he said.

While they understand the “significant economic burdens on sectors of the population… every measure needs to be carefully calibrated and decided upon before being implemented,” according to the WHO official.

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