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NEDA says blanket quarantine is no longer an option

By Bim Santos Published Mar 22, 2021 8:46 pm

As the country’s COVID-19 infections have been surging to all-time highs in the past few days, the country’s chief economic planner has said that imposing wider and stricter quarantines is now off the table.

“We recognize the risks associated with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases but reverting back to a stricter and blanket community quarantine is no longer an option knowing how much it has cost the Filipino people in the past year,” Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said in a statement.

The recent surge in cases, which breached the 8,000-mark today, comes at a time when the government has been slowly trying to ease up economic restrictions in hopes of revitalizing the cratering economy. 

The raft of lockdown policies enforced last year took a heavy toll on the country’s economy, with the gross domestic product sinking to an all-time low, unemployment hitting record high as millions are laid off, and millions sinking back to poverty due to widespread loss of livelihood.

To stem the surge, Chua expressed support for “localized quarantines and additional restrictions, so that jobs and livelihoods will not be affected.”

Chua said that easing quarantine restrictions last year helped restore six million jobs.

“We need to consider that strict quarantines previously imposed entailed huge income losses and hardships, especially among the poor,” said Chua.

In response to the growing COVID-19 infections, bulk of which comes from Metro Manila, some local government units such as Manila and Pasig have started to implement localized or “granular” lockdowns in areas with growing cases.