'Traffic light approach' in pandemic alert level systems proposed by experts' panel

Published July 7, 2022, 4:16 PM

by Betheena Unite

Experts from the medical and economic sector are proposing to use the “traffic light approach” for alert level systems as among the country’s next steps amid the pandemic.

A police officer checks the vaccination cards of passengers at a jeepney stop in Divisoria, Manila on Jan. 14, 2022 in line with the implementation of the Department of Transportation’s “No Vaccination, No Ride” policy in the capital region while under the more stringent Alert Level 3. (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)

The use of the “traffic light approach,” which should be determined at the local government unit (LGU) level, is among the suggestions presented during a consultation series led by Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.

The approach aims to simplify the alert level systems by adopting a red-yellow-green color-coded classification to mean high-medium-low alert levels.

“This system is already familiar to the public,” Concepcion said, adding that the system is used in disaster risk management.

As for the parameters used for the alert level system, the group recommended the use of two metrics: healthcare utilization rates (HCUR), or the number of cases hospitalized due to Covid-19, and average daily attack rate (ADAR), or the number of infections per thousand people.

Moreover, the red-yellow-green alert levels will be determined per region and will trigger specific restrictions for activity, including the wearing of face masks.

It will be part of the recommendations from the different industry chambers and the private sector that will be presented to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. once completed.

“We don’t want to penalize the LGUs that have been doing a good job at vaccinating their population. We believe that the LGU should play a bigger role in pandemic management moving forward,” Concepcion said.

“The state of public health emergency expires in September. Whether this will be extended or modified or suspended will determine our course of action. We need to plan now,” he said.

The former presidential adviser stressed that the task of this process is to lay down the parameters of a transition strategy for a better normal, “one that encourages economic activity and does not risk the public’s health.”

“The most important thing for our business leaders right now is to not lock down. We cannot lock down anymore as rising prices are a big issue for all manufacturers. We don’t want consumers to slow down their spending. This is not good for the economy,” he added.

Business leaders present during the initial meeting were George Barcelon, Michael Tan, Felix Ang and Cecilio Pedro, while members of the newly formed Advisory Council of Experts (ACE) provided the technical and medical expert advice.

Among the groups included in the consultation process are the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Phil. Franchise Association, Phil. Retailers Association, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce, Resto.PH, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, People Management Association of the Phils., and the Association of Filipino Franchisers.