The National Task Force Against COVID-19 is working on a uniform quarantine protocol for fully vaccinated Filipinos even as the Department of Health is pushing for stricter border controls to prevent the entry of the more transmissible Delta variant that was first detected in India and is now causing a deadly surge in neighboring Indonesia.
“Once an overseas Filipino worker is vaccinated abroad and this has been validated, he or she will undergo the same quarantine control protocols as those who are vaccinated here in the Philippines,” vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
“They will follow the same quarantine procedure of seven days and we are also looking at some sort of testing. They are all being studied. We want the policy for vaccinated individuals to be fair and consistent,” Galvez added.
Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire, for her part, said tighter border controls is the best deterrent to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant that accounted for the majority of the fresh cases in Indonesia.
The strain, also known as B.1.617.2, is present in about 70 countries, including the Philippines where at least 13 individuals tested positive for the variant.
“The most important thing now is our border control. There should be uniform implementation across the regions, and whatever we recommend based on the advice of experts should be implemented properly so we can prevent community transmission,” she said.
“This is what we can do to prevent this variant from being the dominant variant here in our country,” Vergeire added.
As of Saturday, the country logged 6,959 new COVID-19 cases and 153 new fatalities as six laboratories failed to submit on time, pushing the total to 1,353,220.
This marked the third straight day that more than 6,000 cases were recorded, and the fifth day that deaths exceeded 100.
Some 9,407 more patients recovered from the illness, resulting in the number of active cases slightly decreasing to 59,439.
Of these, 92.2 percent are mild, 3.6 percent are asymptomatic, 1.7 percent are severe, and 1.3 percent are in critical condition.
For its part, private medical cold chain firm Pharmaserv Express on Saturday said it is helping the national government in distributing
COVID-19 vaccines to local government units in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.
Vergeire earlier said 98 percent of COVID-19 jabs the country so far received has been distributed nationwide.
“Almost 98 percent has been distributed already,” said Vergeire, adding that a total of 55 percent of the COVID-19 vaccines delivered this month would also be allocated to the Visayas and Mindanao.
Pharmaserv Express is responsible for the storage, packing and delivery of the vaccines to critical areas for the inoculation of residents in the regions.
In Lucena City in Quezon province, Mayor Roderick Alcala blamed the rise in COVID-19 cases to the looser quarantine restrictions imposed during the summer months.
With the spike in the past few weeks, Lucena, a major business hub, was placed under the stricter Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine from Modified General Community Quarantine.
Meanwhile, the local government of Taguig has started vaccinating economic frontliners in the city using two of its COVID-19 vaccination buses.
On Friday, Mayor Lino Edgardo Cayetano led the vaccination program at the Central Business District in Barangay Fort Bonifacio where officers and personnel of Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. (PSE) belonging to A4 Category were inoculated.
Among those immunized was National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.
“We truly have come a long way. But we still have much to do to defeat the virus. To stop the spread of COVID19, we need to keep vaccinating more people, while also continuing to strictly follow safety protocols,” Mayor Lino Cayetano said.