From NCR Plus to NCR Plus 8, the government has placed the National Capital Region and its neighboring provinces in a bubble aimed at cutting the spread of Covid-19.
The initial stretch from 22 March to 4 April proved too short, however, that extensions were stretched to cover Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite — four provinces outside of the Metro that was hit hard with new cases from new variants — before Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Pampanga, and Rizal were added due to the alarming rise in cases in those areas.
Last four’s inclusion was not without reason. The cases in these places had been on a broil as the government scampered to bring down the ugly numbers in the capital region, the nation’s center of economic movements.
Credit the government’s success in arresting the coronavirus’ metastasis in the urban and economic centers, the toughest quarantine rules were eased a month later, dampening business leaders’ fear that their efforts for recovery were to suffer further.
Their fear was not without basis.
Unemployment ticked up from 7.1 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April.
That’s 4.14 million unemployed Filipino workers in April as against the 3.44 million without work the month before that.
The total lockdown, however, achieved its purpose of removing clogs in the hospitals and freeing up hospital beds. It also gave the healthcare workers a chance to rest when the number of cases went down in May, allowing a semblance of normality early into the month of June.
With more variants adding to our concerns, parties were banned as these are super-spreaders.
Relatedly, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in mid-May has warned against the big numbers expected in her city.
The Department of Health has also noted that the burden of cases has shifted to other areas recently, particularly mentioning Mindanao which has contributed 25 percent of the present cases.
There are no changes to the minimum health protocols of keeping distance, use of masks and shields, and frequent washing and sterilizing of hands.
These are the only weapons we have.
While vaccines are the proper ammo against Covid-19, their rollout crawls as the manufacturers continue racing against time to meet the global demand.
The country has kicked off the Covid-19 vaccination of its 35 million-strong workforce on Monday, with the government appealing before the local government units and private companies to prioritize the essential workers in the inoculation list.
After the elderly set and those with comorbidities had been served, the jab targets now are citizens aged 40 to 59. There are about 35 million in the A4 priority group, composed of workers in the government, private sector, and the informal sector.
This is a large group but it is one of the most important economic drivers who should be served with jabs the soonest.
We are optimistic that they’ll receive the vaccines until the end of the year when another set of priorities will be welcomed in the jab centers.
The government has to keep its aggressive stance in delivering the vaccines as the next national elections are near. It could not afford to lose support from the people by becoming a laggard in vaccine delivery.