Palace adviser: COVID alert levels should be treated like typhoon warnings
MANILA, Philippines — The current COVID-19 alert level system imposed in the country should be treated like typhoon warning signals, said presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Secretary Joey Concepcion on Thursday.
Concepcion said this in a statement, after stressing how crucial the first and second quarters of 2022 are for the future of the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
“I believe we can rationalize the Alert Levels system and take a cue from how our country manages typhoon warnings,” Concepcion said in a statement.
“We don’t have Public Storm Signal Warnings everyday because we’ve learned that a light shower or thunderstorm is not enough to shut down schools or tell people to stay home,” he added.
He then clarified that alert levels should not be scrapped altogether, explaining that just as there is no sure way to prevent a typhoon from entering the country there is also no guarantee for the country to keep away from COVID-19 and its other variants.
“When the threat is there, then we call the alert levels. What we need is to align the basic protocols that do or do not warrant the placing of alert levels,” Concepcion said.
“What we are doing is preparing a plan. Without a plan how do you move on? If we anticipate every variant that comes along, we will just get stuck in the same place,” he added.
Concepcion then pushed for the requirement for people to present vaccination cards — and even booster shot cards in areas where there is a higher risk of transmission — as well as the strict enforcement of health protocols such as the proper wearing of face masks and social distancing.
He also suggested that the months April and May should be spent vaccinating children in time for the reopening of schools, allowing only fully vaccinated children from fully vaccinated households or those with no unvaccinated senior citizens in the household to return to face-to-face classes.
“Bottom line is, we have to move on. The first and second quarters of 2022 must be a period of growth, low alert levels and the strict implementation of health protocols, children ready to safely return to school, and a country that is no longer afflicted by COVID,” Concepcion said. clarified.
“It should be a gradual approach to moving on from the pandemic,” he added.
Concepcion, earlier said that the Philippines will be ready to live without the COVID-19 alert level system by March or April after announcing that they will meet with the private sector to develop a “COVID-19 exit plan” during the Laging Handa briefing on Monday, Jan. 31.
Malacañang, however, said that it is not yet time to remove the alert level system in the country in preparation for the time COVID-19 becomes endemic.
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