President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he wants children aged 10-14 years old to stay inside their homes despite the easing of age restrictions recently approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
In a taped speech, Duterte said it it necessary to take the precaution of prohibiting children outside after the health department said that there were UK variant samples found in Mountain Province and La Trinidad, Benguet.
“Akin (Mine) is a precaution because there is or there was a strain discovered in the Cordillera that is very similar to the strain dito sa (in the) United Kingdom. How it got there is beyond me…but nandoon, nakita naman nila (it’s there, they saw it) and I trust that our doctors, our medical workers are really competent enough to determine the situation existing. So balik ho kayo sa bahay muna (you have to stay indoors for the meantime),” he said.
He explained that he was particularly concerned about reports that the new Covid-19 variant spreads more easily in children.
“Takot lang ako kasi itong bagong (I’m just scared because this new) strain strikes the young children,” he said, noting that the original strain found it harder to infect children than adults. “Itong original na Covid (strain) hardly if at all na wala kang marinig na may bata. Meron (This original Covid strain hardly if at all you won’t hear about kids getting infected. There are) one or two, and you can count it by the fingers of your hands.”
Duterte also quipped about having children aged 10-14 watch television while stuck indoors.
“Pero itong mga 10, 11, 12 (years-old) puwede na ito sa TV. They can glue their attention sa TV the whole day,” he said.
Last week, the IATF-EID announced that age restrictions in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) will be eased starting February, with those aged 10 years to 65 years already allowed to go out.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles later clarified that children aged 10-14 will only be allowed to go outside if accompanied by their parents or guardians.
On Monday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez defended allowing children to go out amid the pandemic, saying that it is necessary to boost spending.
“Our principle here is that family expenditure accounts for 30 to 50 percent in commercial areas,” Lopez said, calling on Metro Manila mayors to consider easing the age restrictions to restimulate economic activities.
Doctors’ groups like the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines earlier thumbed down proposals to allow children in malls.
Follow health protocols
Duterte also urged the public to be “religious” in observing health and safety protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields, frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing as confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country reached 514,996 on Monday.
“I hope that you would be religious in obeying the injunctions na sinasabi ng ating mga (being said by) medical persons simply because we’re trying to save our country,” he said.
While some Filipinos could afford getting treated for Covid-19, he pointed out that there were many who could barely pay for hospital expenses.
“Mabuti nalang yung tinamaan na meron talagang resources, pero yung wala ang nakakaawa (Good thing is that those who get infected have resources, but those who don’t have resources are really pitiful). For the sake of humanity, yung kapwa mo tao (your fellow citizens), kindly obey the protocols,” he said.
He also admitted that he could not impose “draconian measures” such as preventing everyone from leaving their homes since it would have a severe impact to the economy unless there is a plague.
“When people are dying on the streets then maybe I can use the draconian measures of telling everybody to stay put inside their houses. Ang problema is how to sustain yung mga wala. Yung isang kahig isang tuka (The problem is how to sustain for those who have nothing, those who get by with what they have on a daily basis). So, it behooves now on government to really answer for their daily needs and I think that we will be able to surmount kung kain lang (it it’s just food) but it will at the same time kill the economy because nobody’s working again we go back to the non-productivity of the economy,” he said. (PNA)