The country may return to more stringent lockdowns if “things get worse” and the more infectious strain of the coronavirus spreads in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the new virus strain was up to 70 percent more transmissible or contagious and can cause severe implications on minors.

“Iyang lockdown is a possibility. I said we are making some projections but if the severity in numbers would demand that we take corrective measure immediately, then we just have to go back to the lockdown, Duterte said in a meeting with infectious disease experts and Cabinet members.

The president explained that lockdowns would be imposed depending on the severity of contamination and number of people contaminated in an area.

“Then we maybe meet again and talk about adding more in the protocol to safeguard the nation. Ang ano naman dito is really the people. Our job is to protect the people and the nation and so we are here,” he added.

To prevent the virus strain from reaching the Philippines, Duterte extended the travel ban on travelers from the United Kingdom until mid-January.

The country imposed the longest lockdown in the world that forced its economy into recession earlier in the year. John Ezekiel J. Hirro