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Seal borders vs new variant urged

Many of our entrepreneurs are up already to about 75 percent pre-pandemic state. So that’s good. They are already close to their usual sales volume, not quite there yet but almost there. This will help the economy towards Christmas and election spending, Concepcion told the Daily Tribune

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEY SANCHEZ MENDOZA FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE @tribunephl_joey

The country cannot afford to discontinue the current lively economic activities going into the Christmas season because of the emergence of a new deadly variant of Covid-19.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion made the warning even as he urged government to make sure that balikbayans and foreign nationals coming from South Africa and its neighboring countries will be denied entry due to the threat of the B.1.1.529 variant, classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Right now, no country will do that (closing of the economy), although in Europe there’s a surge of Covid cases. But it is not relatable to the latest Covid variant. Here in the country, we are seeing cases continue to go down. What we have to do is to continue to protect our borders, especially those coming from the Middle East, and now South Africa. The US is also closing its borders and in some parts of Europe. It’s not only us,” he said.

Particularly, Concepcion said the government should keep an eye on Filipino seafarers working in cargo vessels that are coming and traversing from South Africa, as well as overseas Filipino workers (OFW) working within South African neighboring countries.

“We have to be vigilant. The decision to shut down borders from African countries is also good, as these transit passengers will be prevented from moving,” he added.

On Friday, presidential spokesperson Karlo Alexi Nograles has announced that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has suspended inbound international flights from South Africa, Botswana, and adjacent countries of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique, until 15 December over concerns about the new B.1.1.529 variant, renamed by the WHO as “Omicron.”

UK Health experts said the variant, considered as the most significant strain they’ve encountered to date, has a spike protein that is dramatically different from the one in the original coronavirus that vaccines are based on.

Vaccination should go on
In an earlier statement, Concepcion noted that preventing a surge in Covid cases is key to keeping the economy open, a proactive approach amid the identification of the highly mutated variant
“If we want to keep the economy open, we need to take action and vaccinate all our employees and family members and comply with health protocol and guidelines. The private sector has been proactive ever since with the calling of the lockdown and securing vaccines. Now we are working together to discuss how to sustain this momentum and prevent a surge again,” Concepcion stressed.

An upcoming townhall meeting this 15 December called “VAX to the MAX: Preventing the Surge” will bring together data and medical experts, key government officials, and the private sector to discuss how the Philippines can head off a surge following the granting of increased mobility among Filipinos.

He maintained that the private sector continues to be vigilant amidst the gains it has achieved in opening up businesses while reminding members to continue to implement public health and safety protocols.

Concepcion also aired gladness in seeing that most businesses are now towards achieving their pre-pandemic state, even if the Alert level status is at level two.

“Many of our entrepreneurs are up already to about 75 percent pre-pandemic state. So that’s good. They are already close to their usual sales volume, not quite there yet but almost there. This will help the economy towards Christmas and election spending,” Concepcion told the Daily Tribune.

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