Binay slams lifting of facility quarantine for fully-vaxxed travelers: ‘Has gov’t given up?’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday slammed the decision to lift facility-based quarantine for fully-vaccinated travelers, as it will lead to even more public health risks and another “inevitable” spike in COVID-19 infections.
“I’m not sure if the intent is to stop the spread or [if the] government has already given up on us. The spikes will definitely be inevitable,” Binay said in a statement.
The senator said this after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases suspended the “green-yellow-red list” system, subsequently lifting facility-based quarantine for fully-vaccinated travelers regardless of the country of origin.
“It doesn’t make sense that after two years since the time two Chinese travelers were confirmed to be coronavirus carriers, we are again considering relaxing border controls while averaging 20,000 cases per day,” Binay lamented.
“It is difficult to accept that we are giving up. Maybe, yes it doesn’t make sense anymore–when we need people in government making decisions which make sense,” she added, partly in Filipino.
Binay noted that while the number of recorded deaths has been a fraction of the mortality cases during previous waves, abruptly lifting restrictions always comes at a “high price,” further pointing out that mistakes in policy decisions are both “economically disruptive, and unnecessarily damaging.”
“Di pa ba tayo natuto sa nangyari doon kay ‘Poblacion Girl’? Sa loob na nga ng facility eh nalulusutan pa–what more yung talagang hinayaan na nating gumala ang mga byahero galing abroad,” said Binay.
(Haven’t we learned from what happened with ‘Poblacion Girl’? She was already inside a facility but still got through, what more if we let travelers from abroad roam around.)
“Kulelat na nga tayo sa pandemic response, ngayon bibitawan pa natin ang border control,” she added.
(We’re already last in terms of pandemic response and now we will release border control.)
Binay was referring to an incident where a woman, who was supposed to be under mandated quarantine after arriving from the USA, skipped protocols and even partied in Makati City, before later testing positive for COVD-19.
“Other countries are also experiencing waves of surges, and it goes without saying that relaxing border control will definitely contribute to the rise in new variants and subvariants–not to mention the probability of severe illnesses and deaths,” said Binay.
“Minsan mapapaisip ka sa mga desisyon ng IATF kung (Sometimes you just wonder if the decisions of the ATM are) trial and error. So, are we supposed to draw comfort from this? Is the lifting of restrictions supposed to slow down the high transmissibility rate of new variants or, in any way, be less threatening to Covid infections?” asked Binay.
The suspension of facility based-quarantine for fully-vaccinated travelers starts on Feb. 1, the government will now only require travelers to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.
“Sana natuto na tayo in the past two years. Ni wala tayong matinong serological surveillance because we don’t have granular real-time data gathering systems in place,” Binay said.
(I wish we could have learned in the past two years. We don’t even have sensible serological surveillance because we don’t have granular real-time data gathering systems in place.)
“The bottomline is to learn to live with the virus and get back to as much of a normal society as possible–but not without medical safeguards, otherwise we are bordering on irresponsibility,” she added.
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