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The reimposition of a lockdown or the ECQ may not seem entirely good to hear at first. It is a stricter limitation to us. It also means that our country may be interpreted as one-step behind in the fight against the pandemic. After all, encountering the term ECQ or the sight of it in the news brings back the memories we had last year, just after the national government took the bitter pill to protect us from the threat of COVID-19.
I understand the sentiments of the majority—after all, the businessmen are not really for the implementation of any lockdown. Let me clarify that. I am always against it as I constantly push for a granular lockdown as a solution to this crisis. However, this current situation is entirely different from all the relatively manageable situations that we have previously encountered. So far, the Delta variant is the most potent and infectious among all detected variants worldwide. With this, a different game plan is necessary.
In 2020, we were caught off guard, but this year, vaccines to fight COVID-19 have arrived. We have detected the enemy, and everyone is fully aware that vaccines are the key. So, what will tomorrow’s ECQ allow us to do? It will allow us to buy time. Given the increasing number of vaccines arriving in the country, we can utilize the lockdown not just for the purposes of restrictions or limitations on mobility, in this case we can maximize the two-week period to vaccinate those in the priority sector. Furthermore, what we need is to reach the unvaccinated before the Delta variant does. This is a race and implementing an ECQ will efficiently facilitate our victory.
How in particular do we win the race? It is only through vaccination. Another ECQ without successfully accomplishing massive vaccination will not work. What we had last year was an ordinary containment of the virus. Now that we know that a lockdown cannot kill the virus, as it only weakens its transmission potency, then we can decrease the propensity of the virus to infect residents in Metro Manila and gain a lot more time to mobilize our vaccines. That is the objective.
Since this will only be implemented in NCR—being a densely-populated area with a higher chance for contracting infections—then we can work double-time on vaccinating the residents of the country’s pandemic epicenter. Everyone needs to realize that the Delta variant is one-of-a-kind, which requires a different, well-thought strategy as well. If we delay the reimposition of a stricter lockdown for over a month from now, which is already in the 4th quarter, then this can be likened to a serious cancer. If we delay providing a cure, then more people will have a hard time surmounting it. Further, it can become a double-edged sword as delaying a lockdown to the 4th quarter of the year will seriously impede economic recovery. Also, the previous minimum population percentage required for those fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity may not be found sufficient at this point, given the intricacy of the Delta variant. This is the reason why a lockdown can help us maximize the country’s vaccination efforts through an immediate facilitation of vaccinations to close to a hundred percent of Metro Manila residents instead settling a minimum of 70 percent.
Delaying the implementation of a lockdown by resorting to continuous GCQ will not do us any good in the long run. This will just simply prolong the agony instead of fighting the enemy head-on. A more lenient restriction implemented during GCQ can be sacrificed by a short, but efficient ECQ if it means that we can vaccinate more during the two-week period and finally quell the spread of the Delta variant.
We have to realize that cooperation is the key. If people will not listen, then all of our efforts and previous sacrifices will be a mere waste. The success of this forthcoming lockdown certainly depends on teamwork. To be able to accomplish it in two weeks, the private sector, national government, and local government units must really come together for a concerted effort. This is because we do not want to have the lockdown extended beyond two weeks. But then again, it really depends on the number of cases that will be recorded, which can be decreased if we are truly united.
Again, I reiterate that lockdowns will eventually stop once more Filipinos have themselves fully vaccinated. This must be the last lockdown that we undergo. I hope this will really be the end of the lockdown. We have to vaccinate a greater number of people and the problem has to stop, especially during this ECQ. For those who do not believe, we have to convince them. Let’s work on it. But for now, we have to focus on fine-tuning our healthcare system and maximizing our vaccination efforts through this ECQ.
While this may be perceived differently on a superficial level, we need this lockdown anew: this bitter, but relatively better pill for our victory against the Delta variant.