Senators to gov’t: Listen to experts, set localized lockdowns before it’s too late
MANILA, Philippines — A number of senators on Wednesday urged the government to listen to experts and impose lockdowns in high-risk areas to curb the imminent spread of the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said lockdowns should be imposed on areas with a high number of cases based on testing and contact tracing data.
“I-lockdown agad-agad at ipagbawal ang papasok o lalabas at hindi ‘yung buong NCR (National Capital Region),” he said in a message to reporters.
(We should immediately impose lockdowns in these areas and prevent travel to and from these areas, but not the entire NCR.)
“Dun sa maraming kaso dapat tutukan ang lockdown para naka-focus at hindi sabog ang effort. Ibang usapan na kung nahuli ang pag lockdown sa mga nasabing lugar dahil baka NCR lockdown ang kailangan gawin. Daig ng maagap ang masipag ika nga,” he added.
(We should have concentrated lockdowns so that the effort is focused and not all over the place. It’s different if we are late with imposing lockdowns because we may need to enforce such restrictions in the entire NCR. As they say, proactiveness beats hard work.)
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto likewise said localized lockdowns may be “necessary.”
“[G]overnment should listen to scientists, the ones who matter. Join them in making the prescription. Just be mindful that if lockdown is the cure, then like any medicine, an overdose can be lethal,” Recto said in a statement.
Earlier, the OCTA research group said the government should immediately impose “anticipatory, preventive and circuit-breaking lockdowns” in order to prevent the looming spread of the highly contagious variant, which is feared to cause surges in COVID-19 cases.
Senator Risa Hontiveros likewise called on the government to listen to the advice of experts and immediately make a decision.
“If there is an emerging consensus among experts on going into a pre-emptive or sooner-than-later lockdown—considering our limited capacities and resources to deal with a full-scale surge—government should listen and act decisively,” she said.
“Ubos na ang [We’ve run out of] ‘time first.’ If ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) is necessary, then so be it,” she added.
“I am frightened by the images of the Delta variant’s onslaught in India and Indonesia, I urge the government to be ready with the necessary safety nets, even as an early lockdown is contemplated,” she further said.
Hontiveros also reminded that any discussion of a possible “circuit-breaker” lockdown should be coupled with talks of giving additional assistance to those who would need it in case stricter restrictions are imposed.
Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Grace Poe, meanwhile, pointed out that the government is faced with the challenge to balance health and the economy.
“Once again, this will be a great balancing act between lives and livelihoods,” Gatchalian said.
He proposed that the government “restrict” the “source of the spread” without “going into drastic lockdowns that can cripple the economy.”
Local government units, according to Gatchalian, should impose granular lockdowns. Aside from this, he suggested the suspension of mass gatherings and events, a liquor ban, as well as a reduced capacity of places of convergence.
“We have to be vigilant and take the Delta [variant] very seriously,” he added.
The Department of Health has so far confirmed a total of 119 cases of COVID-19 Delta variant, which were returning overseas Filipinos and local transmissions.
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