Palace adviser, OCTA fellow ask gov't to start pandemic exit plan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2022 03:39 PM

A Black Nazarene devotee prays outside the Quiapo Church in Manila on Jan. 26, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
A Black Nazarene devotee prays outside the Quiapo Church in Manila on Jan. 26, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Some experts have called on the Philippine government to come up with a pandemic exit strategy that would relax restrictions in the country.

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and OCTA Research fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco urged the government's pandemic task force to take initial steps in taking the Philippines out of a "pandemic mindset."

"It is time for the national government to transition our people from a pandemic to an endemic mindset," they said in a letter issued Jan. 26.

They suggested that past international travel protocols should be reinstated. These include pre-departure testing within 24 hours of departure using either an RT-PCR or rapid antigen test, with additional PCR-based test upon arrival; 3-day quarantine; and arrival testing on the third day of quarantine, with exit permitted upon showing a negative result.

“At this time, the omicron surge has peaked in the NCR and is expected to peak in the different regions of the country in the next 2 weeks,” they stated in the letter. 

They stressed that a significant number of Filipinos have already acquired immunity from COVID-19, either through infection or vaccination.

Opening up the country to the world by easing and simplifying travel restrictions will redound to many downstream benefits to the economy, they said.

To date, only the Philippines, Myanmar, and Japan have the strictest travel restrictions, Concepcion said. 

“The rest have either lifted curfews and stay-at-home orders, opened their borders to non-citizens and non-residents, and have allowed all or most commercial flights to the country," he added.

Concepcion said the country’s travel restrictions could be further relaxed without compromising safety by scrapping facility-based quarantines and instead requiring only home quarantines.

“The next few months will be critical in how the country will move on from the pandemic,” Concepcion said. 

“I believe the government should set an example and start opening the country to the world. This will instill confidence in the vaccines and encourage more of our countrymen to take them.”

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