President Rodrigo Roa Duterte shares a light moment with Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez on the sidelines of the 2019 Palarong Pambansa opening ceremony at the Davao City-UP Sports Complex on April 28, 2019. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday night withdrew his order to conduct a government-monitored dry run for face-to-face classes as fears over the more infectious coronavirus strain, which scientists said was highly infectious among children, continued to grow.

The pilot test was supposed to be conducted in areas at low risk of Covid-19 from Jan. 11 to 23, 2021.

“I’m calling back the order and I will not allow face-to-face classes of children until we are through with this,” Duterte said in a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases and other experts.

The president said it would be a disaster to resume classes amid the threat of the new strain.

“We have to know the nature of the germ that we are confronting. Wala pa tayong alam and I cannot take the risk of allowing the children. That would be a disaster actually,” he added.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Education Secretary Leonor Briones would implement the president’s instruction to recall limited face-to-face classes.

The Philippines has movement restrictions on people below the age of 15 and above 65.

The country has 469,005 Covid-19 cases as of Dec. 26. John Ezekiel J. Hirro