MANILA - The national government is urged to fast-track its vaccination drive before easing quarantine restrictions nationwide, the OCTA Research Group said Tuesday.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua earlier said he hopes President Rodrigo Duterte would allow the entire Philippines to be placed under modified general community quarantine beginning March 21.
The gradual easing of restrictions has so far been "successful" in managing COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, which remains under general community quarantine, according to OCTA Research Group fellow Guido David.
"Kung suddenly magbubukas tayo talagang may risk na tumaas ang bilang ng mga kaso lalo na hindi pa natin nagagawa yung complete biosurveillance, di natin alam yung extent kung gaano karaming variant na rito," he said.
(If we suddenly open up, there's a risk cases will increase as we have not yet completed biosurveillance, we don't know yet the extent of how many COVID-19 variants are here.)
"Sana nga 'yun 'yung mapabilis 'yung bakuna, hindi 'yung MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) ang mapabilis."
(We hope the vaccines will be fast-tracked, not the MGCQ.)
David also expressed concern over Chua's proposal to expand the capacity of public transportation and to gradually allow people between the ages of 5 to 7 years old outside their homes.
"Nakakagulat talaga yan. Mahirap pang ipasunod sila sa health protocols. Sana nakarollout na tayo ng bakuna, i-fastrack natin ang bakuna natin, yun ang priority," he said.
(It's surprising. They can't even follow health protocols yet. We hope we roll out the vaccine, that it would be fast-tracked. That's the priority.)
He added that those below 16 years old are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, which might make them carriers or superspreaders.
"Sa palagay natin malaking factor yan kasi kung di sila mababakunahan, 'yung bagong variant sinasabi nila mas nakakahawa sa kabataan. Ang problema is magiging carrier sila," he said.
(That's a huge factor because if they can't vaccinated, the new variant is said to be more contagious among the youth. The problem is they might be carriers.)