Take it from Israel envoy: Lockdown not always the answer to surge in COVID-19 cases | Inquirer News
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Take it from Israel envoy: Lockdown not always the answer to surge in COVID-19 cases

/ 03:09 PM August 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — If there’s one lesson from the pandemic that Israel could impart to the Philippines, it was that shutting down the economy, among others, will not solve the surge in COVID-19 cases.

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Embassy of Israel Deputy Chief of Mission Nir Balzam said during a press forum Wednesday that the keeping the economy open will help keep the government afloat through the harsh effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nobody knows that if you lock everything, shut down everything, it’s not always the answer,” Balzam said, sharing that Israel kept its economy open despite recording a surge in COVID-19 infections.

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However, some restrictions should be in place to curb the further spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s the opposite of a lockdown. It means that things are open. Because of the surge, there are a few more limitations. Encouragement of work from home… The hotels are open. The tourist attractions are open. You have to keep the economy open,” Balzam said.

The diplomat added that mass gatherings were reduced to 300 to 400 people from 10,000 to 30,000 individuals, “still considered to be a mass gathering.”

Aside from lowering the number of mass assemblies, Israel also saw the importance of vaccine boosters to address the swelling cases.

Balzam expounded that boosters must be administered after six months after the second dose, according to their experts.

“One of the options was not to give the booster. Another option was to give the booster. And they [experts] saw that the advantages of giving the booster will be probably better than having more lockdowns,” he said.

Israel was one of the first countries to emerge from massive lockdowns and to have successfully stamped out symptomatic COVID-19 cases. Its last lockdown was enforced in December, about a week after the start of what has been one of the world’s fastest vaccination programs.

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On the other hand, most parts of the Philippines are being battered by a surge in coronavirus cases in the wake of the highly transmissible Delta variant first identified in India, prompting the health sector and the academe to call for more stringent community quarantine measures.

This, despite the opposition of some members in the business sector, saying the country cannot afford another massive lockdown, proposing instead more granular lockdowns so as not to hamper the flow of business among cities.

Metro Manila itself just came from a two-week enhanced community quarantine, though it did little to bring down cases, and in fact the country even recorded its highest single-day tally of COVID-19 cases at 18, 332 infections last Monday when the capital region had just reverted to the less restrictive quarantine classification.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus vaccines, Israel, lockdowns, Nir Balzam
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