EntornoInteligente | futbolista adolfo ledo nass Kensington// Philippines to tighten border after first case of coronavirus variant detected » EntornoInteligente

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Philippines to tighten border after first case of coronavirus variant detected

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Entornointeligente.com / MANILA – The Philippines is tightening its border after the first case of a variant of the coronavirus, which is more transmissible, was detected in the country, health officials said on Thursday (Jan 14).

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All travellers from the United Arab Emirates will be banned as the first case was that of a man who returned from Dubai earlier this month.

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who told reporters he had no doubt that President Roderigo Duterte would approve the move, said the government would also consider requiring all inbound travellers, regardless of where they came from, to undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine.

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The Philippines has already banned travellers from at least 30 nations and territories – including the United States, China, Britain and Singapore – till Jan 15 to prevent the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

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The tighter border controls came as regulators announced that they had approved the application of Pfizer for emergency use of its vaccine in the Philippines. They also said China’s Sinovac had finally applied for emergency-use authorisation of its vaccine

Pfizer has promised to supply the country with 25 million to 40 million doses of its vaccine, which is 95 per cent effective against Covid-19. But the company has not given a firm commitment on when it will ship the doses to the Philippines

Instead, the Philippines is expecting to receive next month some 50,000 out of a promised 25 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine that trials in Brazil show is just slightly over 50 per cent effective

Dr Edsel Salvana, who is advising the government on its Covid-19 response, said even at 50 per cent efficacy, Sinovac’s vaccine “is potentially useful”

“It doesn’t mean that with just 50 per cent it cannot be used,” he told reporters, citing the efficacy of flu vaccines currently in use that ranged from 30 per cent to 70 per cent

Responding to threats from the new variant of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry said a lockdown was not needed at this time

“Quarantine restrictions will depend on the attack rate and hospital capacity,” Mr Harry Roque, the president’s spokesman, said at a news briefing

As things stand, Dr Duque said hospitals still had half their bed capacity available for Covid-19 patients

“Our absorptive capacity is enough,” he said

But the Health Ministry instructed local governments to step up their efforts to enforce current measures such as wearing masks and face shields while out in public

“We’re noticing that more and more people are not using their face shields where these shields are supposed to be: covering their faces. Instead, people are using the shields as headbands,” said Dr Anna Lisa Lim, an infectious and tropical disease specialist at the Philippine General Hospital

More on this topic   Related Story Philippines approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use   Related Story Philippines to get 20 million additional AstraZeneca Covid-19 doses The ministry has also instructed its field offices to report spikes in cases of Covid-19 so it can quickly determine whether the new variant has already spread to other parts of the country

This variant – officially known at VUI-202012/01 or lineage B117 – was first detected in Britain, and thought to be 70 per cent more transmissible than previously circulating variants

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry announced that it found the new variant in a 29-year-old real estate agent living in Quezon City in the capital region who went to Dubai for business from Dec 27 to Jan 7, the ministry said in a statement

He tested positive a day after arriving back to the Philippines from Dubai. He went there with his girlfriend. She tested negative, but was again being tested

Health experts here warned that the new variant could raise the country’s total coronavirus caseload 15-fold

The Philippines has tallied at least 492,700 cases of Covid-19, the second-highest in South-east Asia, after Indonesia. So far, some 9,600 have died

Dr Duque said the numbers could still rise

“We have to be very careful because we now have the UK variant. (Cases) could still accelerate with the start of the post-holiday surge. We just have to be doubly vigilant,” he said

More on this topic   Related Story Philippines extends partial Covid-19 curbs in Manila to Jan 31   Related Story Philippine government urges citizens to get Covid-19 vaccine amid safety concerns   Related Stories:  Related Story Over 6,200 in S’pore received Covid-19 vaccine so far; 4 vaccination centres by end-Jan Related Story Elderly to start getting Covid-19 vaccine earlier, from end-Jan: Lawrence Wong Related Story Japan expands Covid-19 emergency beyond Tokyo to cover Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka Related Story Worker from India found to have Covid-19 during routine testing, first dorm case in S’pore since Dec 15 Related Story No Covid-19 herd immunity in 2021 despite vaccines: WHO Related Story Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears effective against mutation in new coronavirus variants: Study Related Story askST: What do we know so far about children who are infected with Covid-19? Related Story Global coronavirus cases surpass 90 million in battle on new variant Related Story What we do and don’t know about new Covid-19 mutations Sign up for the ST Asian Insider newsletter to get exclusive insights into Asia from our network of overseas correspondents

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