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Private sector urged to back BBM

Private sector urged to back BBM

Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Saturday urged the private sector to support the incoming administration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as the more infectious BA.2 subvariant of Omicron threatens the country’s economic recovery.

“It’s incumbent upon the private sector to assist the incoming government at this time. Covid is still very much around and we have to stay focused more than ever so we can keep the economy open,” Concepcion said in a statement.

Concepcion will meet the country’s business leaders, as well as medical and data experts on Monday to discuss what can be done to mitigate the hazards of “stealth Omicron.”

Among those who will present their opinions are Vaccine Expert Panel member Dr. Nina Gloriani, data expert Fr. Nic Austriaco of OCTA Research, Dr. Maricar Limpin and local business community leaders.

Highlighting the efficacy of vaccines and boosters, Concepcion noted that even though Omicron sublineages BA 2.12 and BA.2.12.1 were already detected in the country, those who were infected did not manifest severe symptoms.

“But with the increased mobility in the last few weeks, especially now that we are welcoming more visitors from overseas, we must keep an eye out for BA.4 and BA.5,” he said, pertaining to other Omicron subvariants.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the first two cases detected in the National Capital Region (NCR) were considered “index cases” but added it is highly likely that there were undetected previous infections.

“There is still the possibility [of undetected cases] because we have not sequenced all positive samples, that is why we urge the public to continue exercising caution and vigilance,” she said.

Concepcion said resorting to extreme measures was no longer an option, citing the fragility of the Philippine economy.

“We cannot go to heightened alert levels anymore as our economy will suffer. The additional debt for our pandemic response was not in our plans from before, and it added to the capital expenditures we needed to build infrastructure,” he said.

Concepcion added that exacerbating the situation is the war in Ukraine that resulted in price increase of commodities.

“We cannot raise alert levels, but we can raise immunity levels. We saw how opening the economy has raised our GDP (gross domestic product) to 8.5 percent in the first quarter. We need to maintain that,” he added.

The incoming Marcos administration will inherit an economy recovering from the pandemic that posted an 8.3 percent GDP growth in the first quarter of the year, significantly better than the 3.8 percent recorded during the same period last year.

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