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Not so fast, MMDA chief says on creation of NCR vax bubble

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While presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder and Presidential Assistant for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion is pushing for the creation of a vaccine bubble in the National Capital Region (NCR), Chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) underscored the need to “hit a certain target of the vaccinated individuals” first before implementing the proposal.

Ang sa amin lang [from our end], we should really hit a certain target of the vaccinated. That’s very important for us. Kasi mahirap ’yung wala ka pa sa target na ’yun [Because it would be difficult if you have not reached that target yet], and then you will be setting up certain policies,” Abalos said at an online media briefing. The targeted count of vaccinated individuals, he stressed, should be established at the onset.

Abalos also expressed hopes that there would be no discrimination against those who remain unvaccinated, either because of vaccine hesitancy at the most, or lack of vaccine supply in their localities, at the least.

“Pangalawa, sana wag maging discriminatory in the sense na ‘o bawal kang pumasok kung hindi ka bakunado’ [Secondly, we should not be discriminatory, or just like saying ‘you are not allowed here because you are not vaccinated] but instead para sana magkaroon ng positive reinforcement,” Abalos stressed citing some activities being planned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Over the weekend, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez proposed to allow vaccinated to dine and avail personal care services in a bid to partly encourage vaccination. Unvaccinated individuals would also be allowed inside the malls as long as they provide negative Covid-19 test results.

’Yung tinitingnan natin ’yun at pinag-aaralan para na rin makatulong sa ekonomiya. Siguro [We are looking on it and studying it to help the economy. Maybe] it’s possible, we’re just waiting for the details of that,” he said.

The trade chief pointed out that the plan could be quite unfair to those who wants to be vaccinated but there are no available vaccines they avail of.

“We reach that level muna kasi unfair naman sa mga gustong magpabakuna pero wala silang chance magpabakuna [it would be unfair for those who wants to be vaccinated but they have no chance],” Lopez stressed.

50% vaccination goal in NCR

Abalos also expressed confidence that the national government would hit the 50-percent target of administering double dose shots of Covid vaccines by the end of August or early September.

Abalos reported that Metro Manila is already nearing its 50 percent of the eligible of 9.8 million target.

“So, siguro kahapon naka more or less 46 percent so baka hindi natin ma-hit. Just give us one to three days for that, mahi-hit ’yung 50 percent [So, yesterday we have more or less we reach 46 percent, maybe we can’t be able to hit the target. Just give us one to three days for that, we could hit that 50 percent],” Abalos said.
‘Vax as One’

ON August 28, the Metro Manila Council (MMC) agreed to adopt  the “Vax as One” concept to accelerate Covid-19 vaccination rollout in Metro Manila aimed to achieve population protection.

Abalos said the priority areas would be Metro Manila and then the four nearby provinces such as Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna.

“Ever since the start of the vaccination program, all local government units [LGUs] in Metro Manila have been vaccinating medical frontliners up to all economic workers [non-residents] of their respective jurisdictions,” Abalos said.

“Considering that each LGUs [local government units] have established effective vaccination sites and highly trained manpower; further considering that some LGUs have almost hit their targets; they have decided to accept more non-residents in their vaccination operations. All would be by schedule, strictly no walk-ins allowed,” he added.

According to the MMDA chief, LGUs that vaccinate non-residents are those who have almost already reached their targets in their areas. In the meantime, LGUs that are accepting the vaccination of non-residents are Mandaluyong, Marikina, San Juan, and Pateros. Other LGUs are expected to follow suit as they are already nearing their targets, too.

In Mandaluyong, for instance, a total of 4,715 or 89 percent non-residents were inoculated as of August 26, 3,896 or 83 percent were from NCR and the remaining 819 or 17 percent percent were from outside NCR.

As a precondition, however, persons who will be vaccinated outside their LGUs must present a valid government-issued identification card during their schedule.

At the meeting of the MMC on August 27, Abalos said the Council has approved a new concept of the Technical Working Group of the Inter-Agency Task Force as far as defining flexibility of capacities in cases under quarantine status in modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) areas.

As presented by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III, the new concept of quarantine status implementation will define flexibility of capacities in cases under MECQ and GCQ areas. Under this concept, maximum capacities of closed areas, crowded areas, and closed contacts are clearly established.

Local government units, likewise, can determine for themselves the level of alertness of their area, from scale of 1 to 4, considering three factors—case transmission, health-care utilization rate, and presence of Covid-19 variants.

Further, Abalos added the concept of cost sharing between the national government and LGUs of food packs for isolation/quarantine and granular lockdown areas was also discussed during the meeting.

The DILG manifested its approval and support for this concept, and would present the scheme the soonest.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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