MalacaƱang on Thursday said that the country could return to more stringent community quarantine measures after the B117 coronavirus variant was detected in the country.

Speaking at a virtual presser, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said it was not impossible for lockdowns to be imposed given the virus strain was more infectious.

“May posibilidad po dahil mas nakakahawa itong new variant, mas madaming magkakasakit. Pero kung hindi naman po sila magpapa-hospital dahil mild lang iyan ay may posibilidad na hindi rin po magbabago ang quarantine classification,” he said.

Current community quarantine classifications are set to lapse on Jan. 31.

Roque said the country’s pandemic task force had yet to convene and decide on stricter protocols.

According to the World Health Organization, 50 countries have so far reported cases of the new coronavirus variant.

The first case in the Philippines was detected on Jan. 13: a 29-year-old Filipino who departed for Dubai on Dec. 27 and returned to the Philippines on Jan. 7.

Roque also said it was likely for the government to add Dubai to its travel ban.

As of Jan. 14, the country’s Covid-19 case count is at 494,605. John Ezekiel J. Hirro