Experts want NCR Plus under GCQ until Dec. 31 | Inquirer News

Experts want NCR Plus under GCQ until Dec. 31

/ 04:58 AM July 12, 2021

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR Sunday morning finds two minors walking their dogs along the Marikina Riverbanks in Marikina City, days after the government allowed children 5 years and up to go outdoors in areas under less restrictive quarantine classifications. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines —Metro Manila and other high-risk provinces should remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until December when the government expects to have inoculated 40 percent of the population.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, a member of the government’s Vaccine Expert Panel, made the appeal as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the government lowered the COVID immunization targets.


Solante said full protection for only 40 percent of the population was “still way below” herd immunity, but it was a better and more realistic goal to achieve population protection.


“In light of this population protection target [by] December, [areas in the National Capital Region] Plus bubble should remain in GCQ. This 40-­percent target should not make us complacent in downgrading drastically our current [quarantine] level,” Solante said.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief Carlito Galvez Jr. said it had revised its target for the year from inoculating 70 percent of the population with full two doses to just a single dose by November for 40 percent.

Lower vax target

In a separate television interview recently, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said the lower target came in light of the newly emerged variants of the SARS-CoV-2.

The WHO recently came out with a new recommendation that all countries should aim to fully vaccinate only 10 percent by September, 40 percent by December and 70 percent by June 2022.

Former government health adviser Dr. Tony Leachon said the government must ramp up not only the vaccination but also testing and tracing.

Expand travel ban

Leachon also called for an expanded travel ban to include Indonesia and other countries with high cases of the Delta variant.


Solante said the business community should increase employee vaccination, especially as more private sector-procured AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are due to arrive.

“They can increase capacity of restaurants to more than 50 percent if and only when almost all the employees [are] vaccinated,” Solante said.

The Department of Tourism welcomed the government’s decision to allow children older than 5 years old, as well as fully vaccinated senior citizens, to visit outdoor areas.

“While the opening of outdoor areas to children and fully vaccinated seniors is a step to encourage local travel, this must not be taken as blanket authority for complacency and misrepresentations,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said in a statement.

Under Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Diseases Resolution No. 125, these outdoor areas will be limited to parks, playgrounds, beaches, biking and hiking trails, outdoor tourist sites and attractions, outdoor noncontact sports courts and venues, and al fresco dining.

Puyat cited Intramuros in Manila, which has already opened its outdoor destinations— Fort Santiago, Baluarte San Diego and Casa Manila Museum, where there is free air movement.

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These destinations are open every day of the week and their capacity limits at one time are 200 for Fort Santiago, 50 for Baluarte San Diego and 20 for Casa Manila Museum, she said.


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