Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and molecular biologist OCTA research fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco have urged the government to begin the country’s exit plan from the pandemic.
“It is time for the national government to transition our people from a pandemic to an endemic mindset,” Concepcion and Austriaco said in a letter to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. dated January 26.
They said the surge of Omicron variant of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has peaked in Metro Manila and the wave is expected to continue in other regions in the next two weeks.
They added that a significant portion of the population has already acquired immunity against Covid-19 either through vaccination or infection-acquired immunity.
“In its wake, this surge will confer significant population protection throughout the archipelago,” the letter read.
Among the recommendations of the presidential adviser and the medical expert to the government include the reinstatement of the three-day quarantine for international arrivals and accepting antigen test 24 hours prior to departure, with additional reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test upon arrival.
Concepcion said the country should further ease travel restrictions by gradually phasing out the facility-based quarantine and shift to home-based quarantine.
He also suggested to exempt inbound travelers who got infected with Covid-19 for the past 60 days from quarantine and testing as the remnants of the virus could create false positive results.
On the other hand, Austriaco proposed that the country can adopt the “test-and-go” system in Thailand, wherein a traveler will only spend one night in a quarantine hotel while waiting for the Covid-19 test result.
“Among the Asian countries, only the Philippines, Myanmar and Japan have the strictest travel restrictions,” Concepcion said. “The rest have either lifted curfews and stay-at-home orders, opened their borders to non-citizens and non-residents, and have allowed all or most commercial flights to the country.”
Concepcion and Austriaco said these measures of opening up the country for international visitors by easing and simplifying travel restrictions will help in reviving the economy.
“We put forward these suggestions as the country’s economic health is now a serious, time-sensitive issue,” they said. (PNA)