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Various government officials have backed Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion’s call to create more “Bakuna Bubbles” outside Metro Manila to jumpstart local economy in various areas of the country.
“In our continuing efforts to guarantee our safe passage out of this pandemic, our case trends have already shown us the immense benefits of vaccines. We are one with PA Joey in our goal towards vaccination,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said during Go Negosyo’s Let’s Go Bakuna Town Hall.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, for his part, said the proposal of Concepcion and the private sector to implement a strict lockdown last August paid dividends with the number of cases and other vital indicators now on a downward trend.
“Latest data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shows that our decision to strike balance between protecting the health of our people and the nation’s economy has been very effective,” said Galvez.
The vaccine czar also added that the country achieved a weekly jab rate of more than 5.4 million from Nov. 2 to 8.
Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores expressed gratitude to Concepcion for helping local government units open up their doors to visitors by facilitating their request for vaccines.
“We were given the needed vaccines for Boracay so we can vaccinate the residents in the island and the tourism workers, and we are now open to receive tourists,” said Miraflores, adding fully vaccinated tourists can go to Boracay without RT-PCR starting Nov. 16.
Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap said the provincial government of Bohol has also shelved the RT-PCR requirement for fully vaccinated visitors to help attract tourists back to the area.
“Lahat sabik na sabik magbukas na especially this Christmas. Sa Bohol maraming trabaho ang natamaan. We are prioritizing how to incentivize and how to bring back tourists to Bohol,” said Yap.
Concepcion has been actively advocating the creation of “Bakuna Bubble”, calling it an effective and safe way to reopen the economy. Under the Bakuna Bubble, fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed more mobility and can enjoy looser health protocols.
“With around 90 percent of target population in the NCR now vaccinated, the government should focus its vaccination efforts in other areas of the country to increase the inoculation rate in the provinces,” said Concepcion.
“By creating more ‘Bakuna Bubbles’ outside Metro Manila, fully vaccinated individuals would be given more mobility, which would help ramp up economic activity in a particular area,” he stressed, adding that it would help create more jobs and livelihood in the countryside.
The Go Negosyo founder is also pushing for less quarantine and more mobility for the fully vaccinated as means to encourage Filipinos in North America to return to the Philippines and spend Christmas with their loved ones.
“Many Filipinos are longing to return to the Philippines as they haven’t seen their loved ones for two Christmases already. But they opt to stay put because of the long quarantine being imposed by our government on travelers from North America. The government should shelve its quarantine requirement so our fellow Filipinos in North America can spend the holidays with their family and friends in the Philippines,” said Concepcion.
Concepcion cited the data from Philippine Airlines, which show that the positivity rate among inbound passengers from the US is very low – less than one in 377, or less than one passenger on a full 777 aircraft.
Addressing Concepcion’s concern, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Dodo Dulay said the government is currently discussing a shorter quarantine for international arrivals instead of fully opening up the country for international travel.
“For domestic travel, we are working on a unified system that travelers can use to go around,” Dulay added.
The Town Hall was also attended by key government officials, several provincial governors, medical and data analytics experts, and representatives from the private sector, who all expressed support for Concepcion’s advocacy to intensify vaccination efforts in other areas of the country.
Medical experts Dr. Rontgente Solante, Dr.John Wong and OCTA Research fellows Dr. Guido David, Prof. Ranjit Rye also provided the current COVID-19 landscape in the country in terms of numbers and data.
According to OCTA Research, the country won’t hit three million total cases by end of 2021 while the 7-day average of new cases in the country may go down to less than 1,000 by the end of this month.
“At this level, the country’s average daily attack rate would be less than 1 per 100,000,” said Dr. David.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III, Governors Dax Cua of Quirino, Daniel Fernando of Bulacan, Joeben Miraflores of Aklan, and Bohol’s Arthur Yap also weighed in on the “Bakuna Bubble”.
“I support the one system for the whole nation like the alert level system. We hope that there will be increased mobility. We are embracing the granular lockdown approach so we can manage the surges. We have come a long way,” said Cua, who is also the chairman of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP).
“Malaking tulong po sa aming mga kababayan at mga negosyante na ang Bulacan ay nasa Alert Level 2 na. Ngayon po ay gumaganda ang laban natin sa pagbaba ng kaso at marami na po tayong nababakunahan sa ating kababayan pati mga kabataang may co-morbidities,” Gov. Fernando said.
Meanwhile, the panelists also discussed the planned National Vaccination Day, which will be held from Nov. 29-Dec. 1, saying it would be an effective way to further increase the country’s vaccination rate, especially in the far-flung areas.