Concepcion Eyes The Next 2-Week Lockdown As The Last One

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion, together with MMDA Chairman Benjamin Abalos, Jr., led a discussion on how the National Capital Region (NCR) can effectively maximize the two-week ECQ to efficiently fight the spread of the Delta variant across Metro Manila. It was attended by key government leaders, Metro Manila mayors with over 1,000 business owners and viewed by more than 100,000 audiences across online platforms.

According to Concepcion, we have to act rapidly before the entire NCR gets swamped by rising cases of the Delta variant, as this should be the last lockdown that must be implemented in the country. “I hope this will be the end of the lockdown. The difference compared to the previous two lockdowns, this time we have the vaccines with us that started to roll out early March this year and with aggressive rollouts, we’ll be able to vaccinate 50 percent of NCR population within the next month and hopefully achieve herd immunity by end of the year or early next year. That is why we have to continue to vaccinate a greater number of people and it should not stop, especially this ECQ,” he said.

“For those who do not believe, we have to convince them. Let’s work on it,” Concepcion said.

This is being supported by Visiting Professor of Biological Sciences of University of Santo Tomas and Professor of Biology and of Theology in Providence College Fr. Nicanor Austriaco. “As Secretary Joey has emphasized over and over again, in order for us to do this and uncouple infection, deaths and hospitalizations, what we need to build is herd immunity and we do this at every level of the society.” Fr. Austriaco affirmed.

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco also shared that the reimposition of a lockdown in NCR can be just as effective as what happened recently in other countries. “In Vietnam, their national government has implemented a hard lockdown of urban centers and their situation is working towards the better,” he added. Fr. Austriaco shared this good news happening in Vietnam, which ironically has 335,000 fully vaccinated individuals at this point.

Also, on the current reimposition of a two-week ECQ, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Medical Specialist Dr. Alethea De Guzman shared the data of the current situation in the NCR as per recorded COVID-19 cases. “Pateros and Malabon are currently at critical risk, while thirteen other cities are at high-risk level. Meanwhile, others left are on moderate risk level,” she added.

Further, epidemiologist, senior technical adviser, and head of Epimetrics, Inc. Dr. John Wong enumerated five vital points in ensuring the citizens’ access to vaccines. “We have to make sure that these intersect: availability, acceptability, accommodation, affordability, and accessibility. These will make sure that efficient vaccination can truly lead to what we intend to happen in the NCR,” Wong said.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos gave an overview of the COVID-19 situation in Metro Manila, and affirmed that the local chief executives in Metro Manila are actually united in their efforts. “We vote as one in Metro Manila, and that is what carried us through. What's important here is the unity of Metro Manila Mayors,” he added.

On the other hand, IATF-EID Co-Chairperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles affirmed that the extension of ECQ in Metro Manila is multifaceted and considers various factors. “It is based on the daily attack rate, two-week growth rate, hospital care utilization rate, quantity of ventilation and oxygen supply in the hospital, as well as other socio-economic considerations in the region,” he said.

NTF COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Secretary Vince Dizon shared the latest data showing that the country has already administered over 21 million vaccine doses in total. “In fact, we have previously fully vaccinated a total of 10 million people in four months, while lately, 10 million people are just through in a month's time,” he said.

Also, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia and Metro Manila mayors Imelda Calixto-Rubiano of Pasay City, Edwin Olivarez of Parañaque City, Joy Belmonte of Quezon City and Abby Binay participated during the open discussion.

To conclude, Concepcion reminded that while we are implementing the lockdown to quell the spread of the Delta variant, the future is uncertain if ever the country can come across more variants. “There may be more variants to come, but we have to realize that vaccination is the only key. The private sector wants to see the end of the lockdown. A ‘close-open’ type of economy is something we cannot afford to have. Vaccinating those who are hesitant is critical to our recovery and that is the key to a happier Christmas and better new year for all of us. This may be our last lockdown in NCR if we are able to slow down the Delta variant and hit population protection in Metro Manila by September, as well as herd immunity of 80 percent by end of the year.” he affirmed.

Present in the town hall are IATF-EID Co-Chairperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles; NTF COVID-19 Vice-Chair and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año; and NTF COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Secretary Vince Dizon. Medical advisers are also present, namely, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Medical Specialist Dr. Alethea De Guzman, Visiting Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Santo Tomas; Professor of Biology and of Theology of Providence College (USA) Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, and Epidemiologist, Senior Technical Adviser, and head of Epimetrics Inc. Dr. John Wong. The town hall meeting was moderated by ‘A Dose of Hope’ Project Lead Jopin Romero