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‘Granular lockdowns’ instead of national quarantines sought

SENATOR Francis N. Pangilinan

A SENATOR urged local governments to enforce “granular lockdowns” to contain a fresh spike in coronavirus infections in the capital region.

Stricter quarantines should be targeted instead of enforcing these nationally, Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday.

“Local governments should be empowered to enforce granular local lockdowns because they are more familiar with the situation in their respective areas,” he said.

Mr. Pangilinan said the economy should be reopened to allow Filipinos to earn their livelihood. But the government should intensify mass testing and contact-tracing to prevent the spread of the virus, he added.

The country’s mass testing dropped from 30,000 daily to just 20,000, setting back the fight against the COVID-19 virus, the senator said, citing discussions with fellow senators.

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Mr. Pangilinan was among the first to call for a travel ban of visitors from Wuhan, China, where the first case of the coronavirus was reported in late 2019.

The senator, who in December called for Senate hearings on the government’s vaccine rollout, said these measures should be consistently implemented while waiting for more people to get vaccinated.

Like Mr. Pangilinan, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said the enhanced community quarantines should be localized if infections continue to worsen.

“Only in villages that breach predetermined thresholds of new cases where an enhanced community quarantine or modified enhanced community quarantine should be automatically imposed,” she said in a Viber message.

A blanket stricter lockdown has cripple the Philippine economy, she added, noting that each day of a strict quarantine costs the government P18 billion.

She added that the state should provide a new round of aid to be authorized by Congress under a third stimulus bill.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel urged the government to create an online system that would track the progress of the government’s coronavirus immunization plan.

She asked the National Task Force on COVID-19 and Health department to create a vaccine tracker to promote accountability after the Philippines received $900 million in loan commitments from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank for its vaccination program.

“A vaccine tracker updated daily and accurately will be especially important when we start receiving the vaccines we paid for,” she said in a statement. “We should be able to see that our money is being put to good and efficient use.”

Ms. Hontiveros said Filipinos have the right to know the progress of vaccination efforts amid “increasing anxiety” from a fresh spike in infections.

“Yet again, we are mostly left in the dark,” she said, noting that there had been no clear data on the vaccination drive since it started on Mar. 1.

“How many health workers and essential frontliners have been vaccinated and will be vaccinated?” she asked in Filipino. “While COVID-19 cases multiply, the National Task Force should be made more accountable.”

The virus tracker should contain information on which coronavirus vaccines have arrived or will arrive, and where and how many shots have been distributed, Ms. Hontiveros said.

The tracker must also include statistics on vaccine recipients, as well as other vaccination schedules and deadlines, she added.

The senator said the vaccine tracker would help the government regain public trust. Aside from showing the progress of the vaccination drive, it would also ensure transparency and accountability, she added.

“A vaccine tracker that is easy to understand is an important part of our response as we move forward,” she said. “Especially now that we may find ourselves back to square one after a year.” — Norman P. Aquino and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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