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Changing response to a changing virus

Senators open to removal of alert level system

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 04:49 AM February 02, 2022
Photo for story on doing away with alert level system in Metro Manila

PRECAUTION: Barriers have been set up in several villages in Pasay City to prohibit nonresidents from going in and out of these communities as Metro Manila undergoes another round of lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. Senators say they’re open to a proposal to do away with the alert level system in Metro Manila. INQUIRER file photo / MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines — Senators said on Tuesday they were open to a proposal to get rid of the alert level system in Metro Manila to prepare for the time COVID-19 becomes endemic, saying the government should quickly adapt to the fast-mutating coronavirus.

“This virus mutates and changes forms fast, so it’s good to change our response and policy accordingly; other countries are doing this. It will help those struggling to rise again,” Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara told reporters on Viber.

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Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he agreed with the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, Joey Concepcion, that the alert level system should be eliminated eventually, saying this would allow economic activity to pick up.

“Our economy has taken a beating from the lockdowns and imposed alert levels over the past two years. It is time to give it the needed break to recover,” he said.

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But for Sen. Nancy Binay, the proposal might be premature, considering that COVID-19 had yet to reach an endemic state, meaning regularly occurring at manageable levels.

“If we totally eliminate alert levels, then it’s like letting everyone walk through a dark tunnel without guide lights —you’re on your own if you stumble or run into something or fall off a cliff,” Binay said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he was in favor of removing the alert levels in the second half of the year.

“In order to boost our economy and lower down unemployment, [it is important to] gradually go back to our normal lives by learning to live with the virus,” he added.

According to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the government’s COVID-19 policy should always be in accordance with science-based evidence and the recommendation of health experts.

“Under this new and better economic normal, scientific expertise is critical to policymaking, especially when it comes to public health,” she said.

Concepcion said last week that the removal of the alert level system should begin in Metro Manila within the year.

“My recommendation is there is no need for alert levels anymore at a certain point, except maybe for Visayas and Mindanao, which are only taking their vaccines now,” he said.

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TAGS: COVID-19, Metro Manila alert level system, senators
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