With only three days to Christmas eve, Malacanang gave assurances there will be no lockdown for Metro Manila's 12 million people from December 23 to January 3, three days before Epiphany.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, speaking in Tagalog to reporters, described that lockdown report as “fake news by people who would want to destroy the Christmas celebration, adding President Rodrigo Duterte would announce quarantine qualifications before the holidays.
At the same time, Malacanang said the inter-agency task force leading the country's efforts to check the COVID-19 pandemic would discuss whether or not to follow the example of other countries and ban travelers from the United Kingdom, where a new strain of coronavirus was reported.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday the new strain had led to spiraling infections, prompting his government to tighten COVID-19 restrictions for London and nearby areas, and also reversed plans to ease restrictions over the Christmas period.
The task force recently allowed foreign nationals with visas who will leave the Philippines starting Dec. 17 to reenter the country as long as their visas remained valid on the day of their arrival.
They should also have a pre-booked quarantine facility and pre-booked COVID-19 testing at an airport laboratory.
Countries including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, El Salvador, Iran and others have placed restrictions on British travelers and flights in response to Johnson's announcement.
The Philippines logged on Monday 1,721 new cases of coronavirus disease, bringing the total to 461,505, as five laboratories failed to submit data on time, the Department of Health reported.
Top cities and provinces with new cases are Davao City, 151; Quezon City, 142; Rizal Province, 85; Laguna, 81; and Manila, 77.
There are 23,341 active cases which is 5.1 percent of the total cases.
Of the active cases, 82.2 percent are mild; 8.5 percent are asymptomatic; 5.9 percent are critical; 3 percent are severe; and 0.34 percent are moderate.
There are 82 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 429,207, which is 93 percent of the total.
There are 10 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 8,957, which is 1.94 percent of the total.
No new strain
The Department of Health said they have yet to see a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the Philippines.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire was responding to a query on a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 and linked to mutations involving spike protein that COVID-19 uses to infect human cells seen in the United Kingdom.
European countries to restrictions on travels from the UK.
Vergeire said while health authorities were continuing to monitor the situation, there was no need to impose stricter travel restrictions given that the country only allows entry for diplomats, individuals with businesses in the Philippines and Filipino citizens.
The Department of Health reported that 244 more health workers contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 over the past week, raising the total to 13,262 as of December 19.
In its daily COVID-19 report, the DOH said total recoveries among health workers rose to 12,939 after 246 more recovered from the respiratory disease, while the death toll remained at 76.
The other 247 medical workers are active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine.
Nurses logged the highest number of COVID-19 cases within their ranks with 4,670 infections, followed by doctors with 2,197, nursing assistants with 992, medical technologists with 657, and midwives with 445 cases.
Over 500 other non-medical personnel such as utility workers, security guards, and administrative staff were also included in the tally.