MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief economic manager on Friday (Aug. 20) described as a “big achievement” the increase by more than double in the number of persons who got injected with coronavirus vaccines during the return for two weeks of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent form of lockdown, in Metro Manila.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told reporters that 4.1 million Filipinos were injected with their first dose of vaccines between Aug. 6 and 19.
The economic team had pushed for swifter mass vaccination during the 15-day ECQ in Metro Manila, which ended on Friday, to take advantage of tight movement restrictions aimed at suppressing the growth of Delta variant cases.
Delta is among the several variants of SARS Cov2, which causes COVID-19. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Delta was as contagious as chickenpox, which is 90 percent transmissible.
Dominguez said these past two weeks’ vaccination jumped from 1.6 million during the preceding two-week period of July 23 to Aug. 5.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bataan and Laguna will move to a looser modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until Aug. 31.
“The arrival of additional vaccines and the ramped-up vaccination drive for economic front liners will help the Philippines sustain the gains in containing the virus and eventually lead the way to economic recovery,” Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said, also the Department of Finance’s chief economist.
“Nevertheless, with the presence of the more infectious Delta variant in the country, the government will continue to be vigilant and effectively manage the additional risks posed by the more infectious variant with the appropriate measures, lest the green shoots in the economy be stamped out completely,” Beltran added.
The economic team this week slashed to 4 to 5 percent this year’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth target, from 6 to 7 percent previously, as new variants threatened recovery of jobs, businesses and industries.
The economic managers wanted localized lockdowns in high-risk areas instead of blanket restrictions.
The state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) had estimated these ongoing stricter quarantine measures would slash P151 billion from the economy’s output per week.
As a result, 600,000 Filipinos would temporarily lose their jobs and jack up poverty incidence by 250,000 people, Neda’s estimates had shown.