In this file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, medical workers take swabs from residents in Shijiazhuang in north China’s Hebei province last January. Recently, Chinese authorities have announced new restrictions in Beijing and other cities to contain the coronavirus. (Photo: National Public Radio)
MANILA — Local experts are urging Filipinos to continue observing minimum health safety protocol, particularly the wearing of face masks when in public and in gatherings, in the light of developments in the Beijing where thousands of Covid-negative city residents have already been forcibly relocated to quarantine hotels overnight despite reports of a handful of infections as the Chinese capital begins to take more extreme control measures resembling virus-hit Shanghai.
According to initial reports, Beijing is battling its worst outbreak since the pandemic actually started in early 2020 with the Covid-19 Omicron variant infecting over 1,300 since late April the current year, leading city restaurants, schools and tourist attractions to cease operations indefinitely.
Filipino virologists and immunologists are now saying that the country needs to be more cautious in its response to the new variants and mutations and must not give in to complacency just because there is a significant decrease in the reproduction rate of the disease that has brought many economies around the world down to its knees.
Learning from lessons that occurred in Shanghai, the Chinese government’s strategy to achieve zero Covid cases now includes strict border closures, lengthy quarantines, mass testing and rapid, targeted lockdowns. Over 13,000 residents of the locked-down Nanxinyuan residential compound in southeast Beijing were relocated to quarantine hotels overnight due to the discovery of 26 new infections.
Less than three months since the Philippines relaxed its restrictions to Alert Level 1 in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other selected areas in the country, the Department of Health (DoH) confirmed the local transmission of BA.2.12.1, a more contagious version of the Omicron mutation.
This in the wake of an announcement from health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire that new BA.2.12.1 cases are no longer related to cases outside the country even as she revealed that as of this time, there has no community transmission reported yet:
“The linkages of the detected cases can still be seen,” Vergeire pointed out,
“It’s too early for us to say that there is local transmission” despite the detection of the sub-variant in two individuals in Metro Manila who did not have a history of travel outside the Philippines,” she concluded. (ai/mtvn)