1,000 firms seek more mobility for those fully vaccinated vs COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — More than 1,000 business owners and franchisees issued a “manifesto” on Tuesday calling for greater mobility for the fully vaccinated, according to Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion.
Concepcion said the signatories stressed the urgency of their plea by citing, among others, the losses sustained by their companies because of the lockdowns.
“Of utmost importance, our employees have families to feed and stable employment is difficult to assure without a clear plan,” he said, quoting the manifesto.
Concepcion said the businessmen supported his call for the government to set up “vaccine bubbles” in key areas of the country where economic activity can be revived.
Under the so-called Bakuna Bubble, COVID-19 guidelines would be eased to allow the fully vaccinated to move around, return to their jobs and help kickstart the economy.
Concepcion has been advocating greater mobility for the vaccinees.
In May he proposed vaccine passes to allow them to resume normal activities.
“By letting this portion of the population travel, dine in restaurants, or visit gyms, they can help businesses get back on their feet while we wait for everyone to get vaccinated,” he said at that time.
“Diners, travelers, shoppers, even the cashiers and waiters — they can be confident that they are around other vaccinated people,” Concepcion also said.
Last month he proposed a “micro herd immunity” approach, with the same objectives—to allow the fully vaccinated to travel freely and enter business establishments ahead of those who have not yet been inoculated.
In line with the government’s pandemic response, businesses have invested in vaccines and encouraged their employees to get vaccinated.
The businessmen also expressed support for the quarantine system and granular lockdowns to take effect on Thursday. (See related story on Page A6.)
“This framework can serve as a secure and safe way to restart and sustain the economy whilst ensuring that proper measures are in place to safeguard citizens’ health,” they said in their manifesto, according to Concepcion.
The Metro Manila Council (MMC) also supports his call and has issued a resolution asking the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to let the fully vaccinated engage in business and other activities that otherwise might be prohibited under its quarantine guidelines.
The country representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) has called anew on the government to expedite its vaccination drive for the elderly, amid the spread of the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Speaking at the government’s Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe lamented the “painfully slow” process of the vaccination effort in the country, especially in behalf of the elderly.
He said 3.6 million seniors have yet to get their first dose.
“This is unfortunate, it is unsatisfactory. It’s also a reflection of the inequity that we are seeing globally happening within countries which we need to correct urgently,” he said.
“As COVAX delivers more and more vaccines, we urge protecting the most vulnerable as quickly as possible … because we see that 7 out of 10 deaths in the Philippines are reported in this group of about 60 [years old],” Abeyasinghe also said, as he referred to the WHO-led global vaccine pool which has been donating free vaccines to the country.
He affirmed the stand of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on booster shots. The WHO director-general last week called for a halt to the jabs while many low-income countries had yet to catch up in their vaccination efforts.
“In the interim, we see that the biggest benefit will be by addressing inequities and providing vaccination coverage to as many people especially the vulnerable as quickly as possible,” Abeyasinghe said.
Virus case update
A relatively low 18,056 new COVID-19 infections, compared with the average 20,000 daily cases so far this month, were reported on Tuesday due to the lower output from testing laboratories last Sunday.
The Department of Health (DOH) said 12 laboratories did not report their results.
The daily caseload first began to breach the 20,000 level with 22,366 reported on Aug. 30.
Although it dropped by about half that figure on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, the daily caseload rose again to the 20,000 level beginning on Sept. 3 until last Monday, except for the 18,012 reported on Sept. 7, the 12,751 on Sept. 8 and the 17,964 on Sept. 10.
The peak of the 20,000 level was on Saturday when the DOH reported 26,303 cases.
Total case count since the pandemic began now stands at 2,266,066, of which 177,670 are active—with 85.8 percent being mild; 9.5 percent, asymptomatic; 2.6 percent, moderate; 1.4 percent, severe; and 0.6 percent, critical.
The department reported 20,542 new recoveries, bringing the total number of survivors to 2,052,867.
The death toll, however, climbed to 35,529 with 222 more fatalities, including 92 patients who were originally reported as recovered.
Tuesday’s bulletin had a record positivity rate of 29.7 percent, with 14,976 of the 50,425 tested on Sunday turning out positive for COVID-19.