Creation of Task Force on new COVID-19 variant proposed

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with selected members of his Cabinet along with infectious disease experts. The President convenes the emergency meeting, held in Malaca├▒ang Palace over the weekend, to discuss the emerging fast-spreading new variant of COVID-19 found in the United Kingdom. (KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

CALOOCAN CITY, Dec. 29 (PIA) -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has proposed for the creation of body that would solely focus on the new variant of COVID-19 after its reported emergence in the United Kingdom (UK) and presence in other countries.

“I would suggest that we create a panel or a — who would just be — whose job could be only to observe the different progression and the identification of the new strain,” Duterte said when he convened an emergency meeting with select government officials and health experts over the weekend.

“Nakatutok lang ito sa mga countries, lahat tinamaan ngayon eh. But magtutok tayo dito sa countries where we think that there is a spike and especially dito sa atin and we would know that.”

President Duterte underscored that even if there is yet a recorded case of infection in the country, the government must be prepared through stricter border control, surveillance, and enhanced monitoring of cases in other countries.

“Ang ano talaga dito is surveillance. The only way that we can be prepared, not avoid,” he said. “We cannot avoid it but be prepared to confront the new virus if we know in advance how it will progress in coming into our country.”

The good thing is that other countries are transparent in reporting their COVID-19 cases as well as the different variants that affect them, according to the President.

“The only thing really that is good about this contagion is that every country is telling — is transparent, telling the truth,” he said.

“Even China admitted that the COVID-19 started from there. And itong new strain, of course the first country who reported it was Britain.”

The new COVID-19 variant, first reported in the United Kingdom, is more contagious and slowly taking over the more predominant strain in the UK’s Southeast Region, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Ang unang kaso na natukoy mula sa bagong variant ay noong September 20 pa,” Duque said. “Base sa December 13 report, nasa 1,108 na indibidwal sa England ang may COVID hango sa variant na ito.”

The Philippines has already imposed travel ban on flights from Britain and authorities proposed extending the restriction until mid-January to prevent the mutated strain from entering the country.

The more infectious COVID-19 variant was also detected in Japan, Canada, Singapore, and Australia. (PIA NCR)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (

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