Hard lockdown looms — gov’t

President Duterte’s two economic managers admitted that a step backward move could be necessary as the country experiences yet another surge in coronavirus infections due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said Wednesday, July 28, that the rapidly spreading coronavirus variant is forcing the government to put the breaks on plans to further reopening the local economy.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III (MANILA BULLETIN FIle photo)

“Sometime last year I made the observations that this contagion would most likely not disappear quickly and that sometimes we may have to take a step backwards after taking two forward, to protect our gains achieved in combating the virus,” Dominguez told reporters.

“I believe the new variant has forced us to do exactly that,” he pointed out.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua, meanwhile, sounded that another round of hard lockdowns could be inevitable to avert the Delta variant from wrecking further havoc.

“The risks from the Delta variant are higher,” Chua told reporters.

“Still, our response is to manage the risks by ensuring much faster vaccination rate, and limiting more stringent lockdown in local areas of highest risk, while allowing the rest of the people, especially those already vaccinated, to earn a living,” he said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua

On Wednesday, business leaders have agreed to the proposed reimposition of a two-week hard lockdown in August, a move that is expected to render a negative third quarter economic growth performance.

The COVID-19 Delta variant, which was first detected in India in October last year, is now becoming the most dominant strain globally. It has has spread to over 100 countries, including the Philippines.

Asked if intermittent lockdowns will be the “new normal” strategy of the government in managing the pandemic, Dominguez said “I cannot predict the future with any accuracy.”

“But we can prepare ourselves for any eventuality by protecting our financial capacity to react appropriately to developments,” the government’s chief economic manager said.

Meanwhile, Chua said the economic and health officials would soon meet to discuss the type of quarantine restrictions that need to be put in place in high risk areas.

“We need to see the full analysis before we make a recommendation,” Chua said.