THE chairman of the House committee on social services on Monday urged the government to strictly enforce health and safety protocols in airports and quarantine facilities as a new strain of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) poses a threat to public health.
“For everyone’s safety, I would like to emphasize the need to continue observing established protocols especially in our airports, other ports of entry and in quarantine facilities for arriving travellers,”said QuezonCity Rep. Alfred Vargas, panel chairman.
Vargas made the call after President Rodrigo Duterte extended the ban on all flights from the United Kingdom for another two weeks starting December 31.
The new COVID-19 strain first reported in the UK is believed to be 70 percent more contagious. Health experts have warned it could lead to higher rates of infection.
Vargas said there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” in facing the new threat, and that government only needs to learn from previous oversights and reinforce successful measures.
“We must protect these quarantine facilities for travelers as much as our borders. Delikado kahit isang tao lang ang lumabas sa quarantine facility nang hindi pa tapos ang 14 na araw na quarantine period at hindi pa siguradong negatibo siya sa sakit,” Vargas said.
He also backed a Department of Health (DoH) recommendation for a 14-day quarantine at New Clark City for all travelers coming from countries where the new COVID-19 strain has been reported, regardless of the results of their RT-PCR test.
Aside from the UK, among the countries where there are confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 strain are Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, and Japan.
“Mabuti nang safe. Sa tingin ko naman naiiintindihan ng lahat ang pangangailangan para sa ganitong set-up. But we need to properly communicate it to stakeholders who will be affected so they can make proper adjustments,” said Vargas.
Vargas also suggested greater visibility of law enforcers in quarantine facilities so that those under quarantine are deterred from violating health protocols.
He also appealed to the public not to be lax during the holiday season. At the same time, he also appealed for calm and greater effort to counter disinformation that could cause undue panic.
“Hindi po ito ang oras para magpadala sa fake news at disinformation.
Maging mahinahon lang tayo, at patuloy na obserbahan ang mga health protocols na napatunayan nang nakakatulong sa pag-iwas sa impeksyon,” said the lawmaker.