The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) yesterday expressed alarm over the discovery of a new strain of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom (UK), citing such detection may interrupt efforts for the country’s economic recovery.
PCCI chairperson and Special Projects director Alegria “Bing” Sibal-Limjoco said the country’s economy is still in the verge of recovery, making the group worried on the discovery of the new strain.
“Christmas was a little better because people went out. Just when it was recovering, then came this new strain. The business sector is indeed alarmed,” Limjoco said.
With this, she said such detection of a new strain placed Britain in a hard lockdown anew, which will likewise cause delay in the growth forecasted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for the next quarter of 2021, “but PCCI remains hopeful that this too shall pass.”
“The BSP said that between 6.5 to 7.5 will be our growth next year, however, with this second strain coming up, we believe it’s going to be delayed. This will be delayed a bit, but definitely there’s no way for us to go but up,” Limjoco added.
Over the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte tapped Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to ensure that local government units will be doing their part to minimize, if not prevent, the spread of the new strain of Covid-19 in the country.
With this, the Philippines already barred the entry of travelers from the UK where the new variant was discovered, enforcing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors from nations that have reported a case or cases.
To be able to prevent the strain from spreading and entering, Limjoco said the public should exercise vigilance and practice utmost health protocols.
“We must all really take precautions and avoid large crowd, and practice social distancing and follow the protocols because it’s really going to delay our recovery,” she stressed.
As she maintained that the PCCI is taking “all the steps” to prevent the entry of the new variant, stating that “this is the only way we can again grow our gross domestic product (GDP).”
The new strain reportedly entered Singapore, and recently Japan as reported by Japan Times, as Tokyo woman passed airport screening but has been under self-quarantine since returning from Britain.
On the other hand, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said they need to get more details in as much as the new strain is more lethal, and understands the concerns being aired by the PCCI.
“In any case, this issue is a strong reminder that it is no time to drop the guard when it comes to precautionary measures and to scrupulously observe the rules put in place by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force),” ECCP president Nabil Francis told the Daily Tribune.