Duterte warns of possible lockdown if ‘more aggressive’ Delta variant spreads
MANILA, Philippines — In his final State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte warned of a possible lockdown should the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant spreads in the country.
“It (Delta) is rampaging now in Indonesia, Thailand, India and many parts of Asia…Western medicine says that it is far more aggressive, far more dangerous, and it can cause death [more] easily than the COVID-19 original,” Duterte said in his speech.
“So this is as good as any other time to say, if…it is really dangerous, you have to go back to lockdown. If ever it (Delta) will spread, we have it here now, I hope it will not go any farther but if something wrong happens, I have to be strict and I have now my word that there will be a… Just like what happened in the early days. Eh kung ganoon ang COVID D, saan tayo pupunta? [where is our future heading?]” he added.
While he warned of strict restrictions, the President still said the country cannot afford “more lockdowns.”
“We have spent enormous amounts of resources to build our capacities to overcome this pandemic. We cannot afford more lockdowns lest our economy bleeds to the point of irreversible damage,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte admitted not knowing what to do in dealing with the threat of COVID-19, saying he relies on the advice of his task force.
“I really do not know what to do, I have to listen to the task force,” he said.
Similar to what he mentioned at the beginning of his Sona, he urged Filipinos to “pray for salvation” should a new vaccine be required for immunity against the Delta variant.
“If it requires a new vaccine, we do not have it yet, I don’t know…maybe we’ll just have to pray for salvation sabihin natin [we’ll say] ‘Diyos [God], we have done everything,” Duterte said.
Nevertheless, Duterte assured that the government will “exert every effort to ensure the lost livelihood of our affected countrymen.”
‘Not my swan song’
The Chief Executive also told the Filipino public that his final Sona “is by no means my swan song.”
He said he will continue calling on Congress to approve important measures and press the government to ensure the country fully recovers from the pandemic.
“I shall never cease to implore Congress to pass vital and critical legislation as well as push the entire government to ensure nothing less than the full recovery and revitalization of our country,” he said.
“But to do this, it is necessary for us to first overcome the crippling fear, anxiety and uncertainty that caused—that was caused by the threat of the COVID-19 virus,” Duterte added.
On Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) said it detected 55 new COVID-19 Delta variant cases in the country just days after the agency confirmed the local transmission of the highly contagious variant.
The total number of Delta variant cases is now at 119.
On Friday, the government expanded its travel restriction on travelers from Malaysia and Thailand in a bid to prevent the entry of the COVID-19 Delta variant. The ban started on July 25 and will last until July 31.
Before this, the Philippines has imposed travel bans on Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman until the end of the month.
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