By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Ako BICOL party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co has proposed a “conditional quarantine lifting” in island-provinces with zero to one case of COVID-19 in the last 15 days and in municipalities with no confirmed infection, citing the need to reboot the economic activities in areas with minimal or no confirmed COVID cases.
“The objective of quarantine lifting is to allow people, albeit in limited numbers and in select localities, to return to their jobs. We’re fighting a protracted war and until no vaccine is invented, government’s limited resources can’t support and feed all those who were displaced. We need to save government funds for the longer battle,” Co said.
He said it is up to health experts and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to “to further study and evaluate” his proposal.
Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), he noted that it will take at least two years before a vaccine against the COVID-19 is made available. He said it took four years before a vaccine against the Spanish Flu was discovered.
“But the economy can’t wait and our resources can’t last that long,” Co said.
He said by implementing selective quarantine, the government can save as much as P30 billion.
“With sufficient data, government can plan and identify which areas can reopen or remain in full lockdown. If we implement selective quarantine, initial estimates indicate that we can save as much as P30-billion,” Co said.
Under his proposed selective quarantine lifting, residents who are 60 years old and older are required to stay home since they are prone to acquiring the disease.
“Until the threat of COVID-19 is over or a new vaccine is out, they must have their own room or space for quarantine,” he said.
Co explained that provinces or municipalities whose number of cases is less than 75 percent of the estimated outbreak threshold (as determined by UP COVID 19 Response Team) may not implement the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) at all.
“But their boundaries/borders shall remain closed/on full lockdown. This is to protect the safe territory and its people from possible carriers of the disease from other provinces/municipalities,” he said.
He explained that under his proposal, workers with face masks can report back to work while observing a three-meter physical distance from each other.
“People can move around but must observe social distancing as the new norm,” Co said.
“Once a COVID-19 case is detected and confirmed, the entire province or municipality will automatically be placed on 30-day lockdown,” he added.