A leader of the House of Representatives is urging the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to adjust the alert level status of the Province of Albay from Level 2 to Level 1 to boost its domestic economy.
In a letter to IATF Chairman and Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said that the province has zero Covid-19 hospitalization rates and almost zero infection rates for the past several weeks.
“Albay has very low health-care utilization rates as documented by the personnel of the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital and has very low Covid-19 case counts. As of March 27, 2022, Albay has zero Covid-19 ICU admissions, and practically zero Covid-19 hospital utilization rate,” he said.
“You have areas like Naga City where the Alert Level is now at Level 1. We are not much worse in terms of capacity and utilization. So, I think a readjustment for the sake of the economy is in order,” Salceda added.
Areas under Alert Level 1 are allowed 100 percent capacity in public transport, while all other areas are only allowed 70 percent capacity.
“Of course, the classification has implications on allowed economic activity, particularly for the public transportation sector. As you know, public transport is critical for the local economy of Albay, with public utility jeepneys being the primary mode of inter-local travel,” Salceda wrote in his letter.
Meanwhile, Salceda said that the alert level should be “proportional to the area’s capacity to treat its Covid-19 patients. Covid-19 is only scary if it’s lethal. If the health-care system can handle the infections, it should not be any scarier than the flu at this point. We made sure to make vaccines free and widely available for that reason.”
“That line of thinking about Covid-19 is consistent with President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 166 on accelerating economic recovery,” Salceda added.
“We needed restrictions then, when we knew very little about this disease and how to treat it. Now, we do know how to contain and treat Covid-19 infections. It’s no longer a mystery to fear,” Salceda added.
Salceda also noted that public transport capacity is especially crucial during this period of high fuel prices.
“Besides, jeepneys and tricycles, which are main transport options in provinces like Albay, are well-ventilated. So, they should be far safer than even options like taxis and buses, which are now allowed free rein in Metro Manila,” Salceda added.