President Duterte’s economic manager said the government’s efforts should be geared at accelerating the country’s vaccine deployment and maintaining strict border controls as the quick-spreading Delta variant poses a threat in the Philippines.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua has thumbed down on Monday, July 12, the proposal to keep Metro Manila and other high-risk provinces under general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of the year.

“We recognize the higher risk brought about by the delta variant,” Chua, head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), admitted.

But he believes that there are other options to better manage the Delta variant threat without hampering the country’s economic recovery and aggravating hunger and other non-COVID health concerns.

“This can be better managed by guarding our borders and enforcing the health standards, as well as imposing localized lockdowns in areas of transmission, rather than placing the entire country or large areas in GCQ or higher level of quarantine,” Chua said.

On Monday, Rontgene Solante, a member of the government’s Vaccine Expert Panel, has appealed to keep the National Capital Region (NCR) and its nearly provinces under GQC up to December, or until 40 percent of the population have been inoculated.

Chua rejected the plan, instead, he suggested to further relax the country’s broad quarantine rules to boost growth, and speed up the vaccine program to limit the impact in case there will be another wave of infections due to the Delta variant.

“Our effort should be on accelerating vaccine deployment. As supply resumes next week, we will exert effort to increase vaccination centers, including in malls and work places, and prioritizing areas of highest risk of infection,” the NEDA chief said.

The Philippines is expected to receive a total of 16 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this month. To date, the country has received over 20.6 million doses coming from various manufacturers.

Last week, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases adopted a policy allowing children more than five years old in modified general community quarantine and GCQ areas to go outdoors.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the government’s chief economic manager, welcomed this new development, saying “it will certainly improve the physical and psychological health of the kids & their parents.”

Meanwhile, US-based economic and financial think tank Moody’s Analytics, said the Philippine government should to be cautious in loosening its social restrictions despite stabilizing daily number of new COVID-19 infections.

Moody’s Analytics said the government needs to be wary over the recent trend of COVID-19 resurgence and spread of the Delta variant across the Asia-Pacific.

Source: Manila Bulletin (