Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay, ways and means committee chairperson, requested Sunday the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to adjust the alert level status of the province from level 2 to level 1, citing hospital utilization must be basis of alert levels.
In a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Salceda said “Albay has very low healthcare 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.”
Since March 18, Albay has had new confirmed cases, he noted.
“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,” he said. Rio Arja
“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,” he added.
The Albay lawmaker said 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,” he added.
Such line of thinking about COVID-19 is consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 166 on accelerating economic recovery, he stressed.
“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,” he said.