July 19, 2021
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — The government may revisit existing policies on travel and outdoor activities while the Philippines is on the lookout for a possible surge brought by the feared Delta coronavirus variant, the co-chair of the pandemic response task force said on Monday.
"We are very much concerned as we should be," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases told CNN Philippines' The Source.
"This is something that we try to avoid from happening but now that it's here, we, all Filipinos, we all now have to increase our minimum public health protocols and standards whether it's in the workplace, or at home or in the community, or in barangays," he said.
Nograles also said monitoring of countries that may be included in the travel ban will continue. Indonesia was previously added to the list of nations covered by restrictions alongside India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, UAE, and Oman until July 31.
They may also consider rethinking the new policy allowing children outdoors in areas under general community quarantine and modified GCQ that are not under "heightened restrictions," he added.
"All of these suggestions, we will seriously consider because the Delta variant, it changes the rules of the game," Nograles said.
"As we've seen in other countries, hindi mo pwedeng basta-basta pabayaan yan (you cannot just ignore it)," he added. "It really changes the rules of the game right now. We have to revisit all of our policies."
There are 35 Delta variant cases recorded in the Philippines to date, including 11 locally acquired cases, according to the Department of Health.
On Monday, one of the recoverd patients who acquired the highly transmissible variant locally has died, bringing the total Delta-related fatalities in the country to three.
Delta, or the B.1.617.2 coronavirus variant first detected in India, is believed to be the most transmissible variant and is associated with increased hospitalization.
Only 4 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated to date, still far from the government's target of inoculating 70 million to achieve herd immunity.