Ex-gov’t adviser on Covid-19 questions cinema reopening in GCQ areas
MANILA, Philippines — Health reform advocate and former adviser of the National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF) Dr. Anthony Leachon on Monday questioned the seemingly rash decision of the national government to allow the reopening of cinemas operating in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas.
“Science-based ba tayo or knee-jerk reaction lang para lang kumita tayo? O health ba ng mga kababayan ang iniisip?” he asked in an interview on DWIZ.
(Are the decisions science-based or is it only a knee-jerk reaction to gain income? Or ere we really thinking about the health of our countrymen?)
“Meron tayong B.1.1.7, ito ang tandaan natin, ito ang pinaka-importante. Nakapasok na ‘yung highly-transmissible variant, ito ‘yung galing UK. Ito hindi nakikita natin. Ito mamaya ang mag cause ng sudden surge natin,” he added.
(We now have B.1.1.7, we must remember this. The highly-transmissible variant from the United Kingdom has already entered the country. We cannot see this. This might cause a sudden surge in our cases.)
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Friday announced that it has allowed the reopening of the following businesses in areas under GCQ:
- driving schools
- traditional cinemas, and video and interactive-game arcades
- libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers
- meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions
- limited social events at credited establishments of the Department of Tourism
- limited tourist attractions, such as parks, theme parks, natural sites, and historical landmarks.
However, Metro Manila Council (MMC) chairman and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said Metro Manila mayors have opted to defer the reopening of the said businesses amid the increasing threat of Covid-19.
Health care experts also expressed their disagreement with IATF’s decision since it might only put more people at risk.
The combined reaction from Metro Manila mayors and medical experts prompted Malacañang on Monday to move the implementation of the reopening of mentioned establishments to March 1.
“Ang problema natin, we want to reopen the economy pero ang ginagawa nating pagbubukas ay mga maliliit na non-essential business activities na wala naman magiging impact in terms of economy, sa aking palagay, lalo na’t wala pa tayong vaccines,” said Leachon.
(Our problem, in my opinion, is that we want to reopen the economy but we are reopening small non-essential business activities that do not have an impact in terms of the economy, especially now that we still do not have the vaccines.)
“Kung tataas ang ating cases right now, baka ma-overwhelm ang health care system bago pa tayo mag bakuna. Mahahati pa ngayon ang atensyon ng ating mga medical personnel sa pagbabakuna at sa pag aaddress ng mga patients na maoospital because of this particular reopening of the cinema,” he continued.
(If our cases increase right now, it might overwhelm our health care system even before we start the vaccination. The attention of our medical personnel will be divided between the inoculation drive and addressing the additional patients who will be admitted because of this particular reopening of the cinema.)
In a Twitter post on Sunday, Leachon advised that the best way to reopen the economy is through managing the current health crisis “in the best possible way.”
“That’s the way we get to see things bounce back by adhering to science. IATF ‘s callous move is not pro safety and pro-people – it’s clearly pro-business!” he added.
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