Expert warns vs. quick easing of Metro Manila quarantine restrictions


Posted at Nov 24 2021 01:06 PM

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MANILA – A health reform advocate said it may be better to maintain the Alert Level 2 quarantine status in Metro Manila until the end of the year, as the country continues to ramp up its vaccination program against COVID-19.

“Why don’t we sacrifice for a month and maintain the Alert Level 2 till December 31, until we have completed the vaccination program on November 29 to December 1 and then the booster shots for the priority groups? And then let us look at the scorecard again of the NEDA," Dr. Tony Leachon said on ANC’s “Market Edge.”

Leachon explained that it would be counterintuitive for the government to loosen quarantine restrictions while it is vaccinating people—especially as the Philippines didn’t get perfect scores in infection management and vaccine rollout in its own scorecard for gauging the country’s effectiveness in responding to the pandemic.

“Consider this: based on the (National Economic and Development Authority) score system…the infection management is not a perfect score. The perfect score is a 3. They scored themselves 1.44. The vaccination rollout, the perfect score is 3. They scored themselves 1.3.”

“Now we’re going to launch here the vaccination program on November 29 to December 1. To ramp up to around [5 million]. For the 3 days. And then we’re going to fasttrack also the boosters for the A1, A2, and A3.”

“So what does this particular message tell us? We’re running out, we’re actually running against time,” he said.

“And if we do that, and we try to loosen up our restrictions, then we will, you know, be counter-intuitive. This will be a counter-intuitive measure to the efforts of the government,” he explained.

Leachon’s comments come after Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion on Monday said he believes Metro Manila can soon be placed under Alert Level 1, the loosest of the current quarantine restrictions.

Leachon also called on the government to be consistent in its policies on mobility amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our messaging should be consistent. We’re actually allowing vaccinated individuals to enter the mall, but we are allowing also unvaccinated kids to enter the mall.”

“So this is a bundle of contradiction. So if you’re really strict then why would you allow kids who are actually unvaccinated and their risk, according to the vaccine expert panel [head] Professor [Nina] Gloriani, the risk of 12-17 unvaccinated is 10 times [more likely] to develop severe, critical cases?”

Leachon added, “We need to get our acts together and be consistent with the guidelines that we have set forth. Or else, we might have actually run into problems looking at the busiest time of the year which is the holiday season.”

--ANC, 24 November 2021