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Concepcion: Preventing the surge key in keeping economy open

PHOTO CAPTION: A spot map created by Dr. Mahar Lagmay and his team shows the stark drop in new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila on Sept. 6 and Nov. 15, 2021. The decline in new cases followed the call by the private sector for Metro Manila to be put under a strict lockdown last August.

Preventing a surge in COVID cases is key to keeping the economy open. Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion called for this more proactive approach amidst the identification of a new, highly mutated COVID variant seen as the “most significant” so far. The new COVID variant, identified in South Africa as B.1.1.529, is causing concern as it appears to be more transmissible than Delta and is highly mutated.

“If we want to keep the economy open, we need to take action and vaccinate all our employees and family members and comply with health protocol and guidelines. The private sector has been proactive ever since with calling of the lockdown and securing vaccines. Now we are working together to discuss how to sustain this momentum and prevent a surge again,” Concepcion stressed.

An upcoming townhall meeting this December 15 called “VAX to the MAX: Preventing the Surge” will bring together data and medical experts, key government officials, and the private sector to discuss how the Philippines can head off a surge following the granting of increased mobility among Filipinos.

The townhall meeting is seen as timely following the appearance of the new COVID variant. Concepcion recalled that it was the private sector’s proactive move to call in late July for an early lockdown to be implemented in early August in the National Capital Region (NCR) was effective in bringing down the number of new COVID-19 cases in the metro. The call was made by the private sector upon heeding the analysis by OCTA Research. The rise in cases was believed to have been triggered by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Last Thursday, a spot map went viral for showing side by side the number of active COVID-19 cases in the NCR from two dates in September and November 2021. The map showed the stark drop in cases using Department of Health data from two specific dates: September 6 and November 15, 2021.

The map was created by disaster scientist Dr. Mahar Lagmay, and posted on his Twitter account with the caption, “Big difference! Nov. 15, 2021 vs. Sept. 6, 2021 random dot map of active cases in Metro Manila.” The specific dates chosen by Dr. Lagmay recorded stark differences in the number of new cases: 22,415 for September 6, and 1,547 for November 15.

“There was opposition to the call, but we chose to believe the data,” said Concepcion, saying that the map shows unequivocally the effect of a timely lock down on the decrease in the spread of the virus, as well as the proactive approach of all sectors to stop the spread of the virus.

Concepcion said the private sector continues to be vigilant amidst the gains it has achieved in opening up businesses while reminding members to continue to implement public health and safety protocols.

Initiatives such as VAX to the MAX monitor vaccination rates across the country to encourage LGUs to step up their vaccination rates. “Vaccination remains our primary weapon against the virus,” he said. An unvaccinated population is also seen as contributory to the rise of virus mutations. The national government has set aside November 29 to December 1, which Concepcion said, will contribute greatly to speeding up vaccinations in the rest of the country.

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