The Department of Health said that as of Saturday, Jan. 2, the Philippines has not detected a local case of the new COVID-19 variant that was first detected in the UK.
Starting Monday, Jan. 4, all RT-PCR tests that turn out positive for SARS-CoV-2 will be checked for the presence of the new strain at the Philippine Genome Center, which is more infectious but is not necessarily more dangerous.
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The new strain has prompted the Philippines to ban arrivals from 21 countries with confirmed cases of the new variant, including the U.S. and the UK. President Rodrigo Duterte also said that a fresh lockdown was possible should there be a spike in infections.
"Rest assured that the DOH is working with relevant agencises to ensure that stricter measures of control are being implemented in all ports of entry," the DOH said.
"Meanwhile, we urge everyone to keep practicing the minimum public health standards -- the only universally effective protocol against mutation, variant or strain," it said.