Extended ECQ to aggravate health, economic crisis: PCCI

MANILA – With several projections on coronavirus cases made by the Department of Health (DOH), including a five-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) was quick to express its opposition to longer lockdowns. 

In a statement Friday, PCCI acting president Edgardo Lacson said extended ECQ may even aggravate the health and economic crisis. Lacson said lockdown is not the lone option to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). 

“Covid-19 pandemic is a pharmaceutical problem while lockdown is a militaristic solution. Our economy is disfigured after many protracted lockdowns, yet the spread of Covid continues,” he added. 

Earlier, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire presented the agency’s several projections in Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila using different levels and periods of community quarantine measures. 

These include the most stringent measure —extending Metro Manila ECQ to five weeks. Amid the threats of the Delta variant, Metro Manila is placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20. “Mere mention of lockdown stokes greater fear than the infection from Covid-19. Another five-week lockdown could be the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back.

It will wipe out the temporary economic gains we earned in between lockdowns and could stop the momentum of business from moving forward,” Lacson added. The acting PCCI chief said a more prudent response should be ramping up vaccination rollout to achieve population protection and continuing the imposition of public health protocols. 

In a text message, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters that these projections, including the five-week ECQ, were presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). “We know those.

Those scenarios were presented, but that doesn’t mean there’s (a) lockdown.  There are balanced parameters being considered. And economic and security angles are also always considered together with health (statistics),” Lopez said. 

He added if the number of Covid-19 cases will improve next week, Metro Manila should move to modified ECQ and lockdowns should be granular. “(We’re) watching data closely as long as (there is) no threat of an uncontrollable surge of Delta,” he said. (PNA)

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