Solon believes 2020 holiday season caused COVID infection uptick

Published January 15, 2021, 5:38 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Number-crunching congressman Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay has reason to think that Filipinos’ recent holiday celebration – as reserved as it may have been in some areas due to quarantine rules – might have caused an increase in COVID-19 infectivity rate.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay Rep. Joey Salceda’s office / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“We’re at the 1.3 levels again. That means every ten people that get infected are able to infect 13 other persons,” Salceda said Friday, citing information from his “risk science team.”

“We want to keep the rate below one, over and under by 10 percent, which it was for the entire last quarter of 2020. So, there are indications that the holidays caused an uptick in infections. My fear is our lack of contact tracers may be understating the figure,” added the House Ways and Means Committee chairman.

“I have no doubt that the worst is over, both for the economy and for health in the country. But we have to remain alert and strategic,” said the economist-lawmaker.

In this regard, Salceda said he has asked the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to renew the contracts of service of contact tracers who were hired last year but whose terms have expired last Dec. 31.

He said that reinstating the contact tracers is crucial now that the country has verified a report of the new and more infectious strain of COVID-19. The mutant strain from the United Kingdom arrived in the Philippines only this week.

“January is the window of opportunity to prevent a new wave of COVID-19 infections. The economy simply cannot afford another lockdown, and we cannot afford to risk the lives of health care workers now that we have not yet vaccinated them in mass,” Salceda said.

“The reason why Congress granted emergency powers to the different departments is so that these issues on procurement and cash do not happen. The extension of the Bayanihan 2 (law) and 2020 budget should remedy this concern,” reckoned the Bicolano.

Salceda said that while “waves of infection are inevitable; the size of the waves determines our response.”

“So, if we can flatten the next wave by preventing community transmission of the new variant of COVID-19, and by expanding health care capacity to treat and isolate, we can avoid having to lock the economy down,” he said.