Lockdowns not the cure for pandemic—Garin

Former Health Secretary and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin on Wednesday, Sept. 15 reminded the government on the need to conduct aggressive testing and contact tracing as it starts to implement granular lockdowns under a new alert level system as part of its anti-COVID-19 measures.

“No country in the world is using lockdown as a cure to the pandemic, whether it’s general or granular lockdown,” Garin said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual forum.

“It’s an opportunity for us to prepare,” the lawmaker stressed, adding that the vaccination against COVID-19 is “just part and parcel” of the response to the pandemic.

But the government, she said, should pay for the COVID-19 testing costs, because doing so would encourage more individuals to conduct the tests.

Garin admitted that prior to the entry of the Delta variant in the country, she was supportive of the proposals to create vaccine bubbles.

“I was supportive of that before, but when Delta came, even if you are already fully vaccinated, you can still transmit the virus. Yet’s that’s the problem with Delta. You can still infect other persons,” she pointed out.

“That’s why instead of a vaccine bubble, government should subsidize or make testing free especially for economic frontliners, because COVID-19 has a huge impact on our economic activities. There is a trickle effects on public health and I agree that business has to move on,” she pointed out.

Malacañang earlier announced that it will start implementing a new alert level system and will place the National Capital Region (NCR) under Alert Level 4—the highest alert level under the new scheme—on September 16.

Under Alert Level 4, persons below 18 years old and those above 65 years old, and those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities and other health risks, pregnant women would not be allowed to leave their homes except for obtaining essential goods and services.

Also under the scheme, outdoor or alfresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries would be allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity regardless of vaccination status.

Dine-in services may be allowed at 10 percent capacity but only for fully vaccinated individuals.