“End ECQ now and let the people go back to work” – SHARP EDGES by JAKE J. MADERAZO
For almost two months, people in Luzon, including Metro Manila, have been restricted to their houses, helping the government battle the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The “public health emergency” has killed jobs, businesses and industries, driving our country’s gross domestic product (GDP) down to 0.2 percent. The last time the GDP shrank was in the last quarter of 1998.
According to scientists and the Department of Health (DOH), we are “flattening the curve” as there are fewer confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities. The number of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests being conducted has increased dramatically with 26 laboratories and the huge backlog at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is being addressed. Case doubling time has improved from two days to seven days today. Quarantine and intensive care unit facilities for patients are now available, taking some of the weight off from our health-care system.
Businessmen are now saying the economy cannot afford a two-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). It is almost inevitable that we will go into recession from September onward. It will be worse, if we delay jumpstarting the economy. The estimated loss to the economic is now P2 trillion with 25 million citizens out of jobs.
All small and medium scale businesses, even the underground economy, are closed. Cash assistance is depleting government coffers. There are no revenues coming from either dead or recovering businesses.
Our ECQ lockdown was the strictest in Asia with the “average decline in public mobility” at 50.83 percent, beating India’s 47.83 percent, according to Nikkei Asian Review. The government brought down public mobility by 85 percent in transit stations, 79 percent in retail/recreation and 71 percent in workplaces. Ironically, both the Philippines and India continue to have an increasing number of confirmed cases.
In comparison, Thailand had a 31.66 percent average decline in public mobility; Vietnam, 29.50 percent; Japan, 13.83 percent; South Korea, 11 percent and Taiwan, 2.16 percent. However, they were able to control the rise in COVID-19 cases in their countries.
Another example is Sweden which defied World Health Organization mathematical models that around 30,000 to 70,000 of its citizens would die without a lockdown. Instead, its citizens practiced social distancing. The death toll was not 30,000 as predicted but 3,500. Sweden’s economy also continued to flourish just like Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea.
Another ECQ extension will make our situation more worrisome. There is so much hunger and unemployment.
Unlike two months ago, Filipinos are now aware of how COVID-19 can be transmitted and how to avoid being infected. The “new normal” may pose challenges but people know that it is necessary for our nation’s sake.
The government listened to scientists when it imposed the ECQ. But now, every family’s future is threatened by a deep economic recession.
Should we continue to listen to scientists? Or should we work now on our economy and future?
Let’s end this ECQ, go back to work and revive the economy.
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