The government is being pushed to develop a pandemic exit strategy.
Joey Concepcion, the President’s Adviser for Entrepreneurship, and Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a molecular biologist and OCTA research fellow, have encouraged the government to initiate the country’s departure plan from the pandemic.
In a letter dated January 26 to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., Concepcion and Austriaco declared, “It is time for the national government to shift our people from a pandemic to an endemic mindset.”
According to them, the Omicron form of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak has peaked in Metro Manila, with the wave projected to spread to other parts of the country over the next two weeks.
They went on to say that a large percentage of the population has already developed immunity to Covid-19, either through vaccination or infection-acquired immunity.
The letter stated, “In its wake, this surge will give significant population protection throughout the archipelago.”
The presidential adviser and the medical expert have recommended to the government that the three-day quarantine for international arrivals be reinstated, as well as accepting antigen tests 24 hours before departure and an additional reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test upon arrival.
Concepcion believes the country should relax travel restrictions even more by gradually phasing out facility-based quarantine in favor of home-based quarantine.
He also proposed exempting arriving tourists who have been infected with Covid-19 for the last 60 days from quarantine and testing because the virus’s remains could cause false-positive findings.
Austriaco, on the other hand, suggested that the country adopt Thailand’s “test-and-go” method, in which a traveler spends only one night in a quarantined hotel while waiting for the Covid-19 test result.
“Only the Philippines, Myanmar, and Japan have the tightest travel restrictions among Asian countries,” Concepcion said. “The rest have dropped curfews and stay-at-home orders opened their borders to non-citizens and non-residents, and let all or nearly all commercial aircraft into the country.”
According to Concepcion and Austriaco, opening up the country to international visitors by removing and streamlining travel regulations will help the economy recover.
“We made these recommendations because the country’s economic health has become a critical, time-sensitive issue,” they explained.
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