The government’s prognosis is for the COVID-19 outbreak to peak at 35,000 persons under monitoring (PUM) and/or under investigation (PUI), while a top member of the business sector expects this to crest by mid-May to mid-June.
These came out of the teleconference held on 29 March between government officials and the business/private sector that was aimed at assessing what could trigger the lifting of a “national lockdown” via Zoom app video conferencing.
The video meeting was attended by Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Peace Process head and Chief implementor of government’s policy against the coronavirus Secretary Carlito Galvez, Department of the Interior and
Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno.
The private/business sector was represented by Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Hans Sy, Kevin Tan, Lance Gokongwei, Mike Tan, George Barcelon, Jun Ortiz-Luiz, Tennyson Chen, Paul Dominguez and Ginggay Hontiveros, among others, who represented the biggest local companies and trade groups.
But while these numbers do not look promising, Nograles disclosed the third phase of the government approach in mitigating the spread of the new coronavirus that is aimed at lifting the lockdown.
Modified quarantine set
Next to be likely implemented is the Modified Community Quarantine, which will require the isolation of all PUI/PUM, along with the elderly, pregnant and “non-earners.” This would follow the initial phase of Community Quarantine and the second Enhanced Community Quarantine presently in effect in the whole of Luzon.
Mobility of people is to be relaxed, checkpoints will be removed, while public transportation will be restarted on a reduced capacity and with only certain types of transport modes.
Malls and some public venues will remain closed, however.
Isolation of PUI/PUM will be in hotel setting or single occupancy only.
Mild COVID-19 positive patients will be confined to coliseum-style setting. This explains the commissioning of the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Ninoy Aquino Stadium and Philsports Arena for the purpose. Other government-owned facilities are also being employed for this approach.
Replenish gov’t funds
Severe and critical COVID-19 patients will be treated in hospitals.
A business representative, however, pushed the need to “flatten the curve” while ensuring that the poor families are provided with their needs.
All participants agreed that no extension on the lockdown shall be enforced as this would be damaging to the economy, especially with the International Monetary Fund declaring a global recession.
Business activity is expected to continue to slow down, with revenues expected to be 40 percent less compared to that of last year.
A call to open manufacturing and let business to be demand-driven was aired. A forecast of a 20 to 30 percent demand drop was made.
A government representative raised the possibility of imposing more taxes to be able to fund the stimulus programs.
It was decided that National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Ernesto Pernia will take the lead in the forward planning activity after the lockdown is lifted on 15 April.
with HANANEEL BORDEY