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PH warned vs opening borders to travelers.

By Genalyn Kabiling, Ben Rosario, and Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Countries like the Philippines have been cautioned against opening their borders to all travelers to prevent the spike in COVID-19 cases.


Tomas Pueyo, famed writer of the hammer and dance strategy in battling the coronavirus, has pushed for travel and health restrictions, such as allowing only visitors from countries low infections, to prevent the importation of infection.

Speaking in a State radio program hosted by Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Pueyo recognized that many countries rely on tourism to propel economic growth but advised "not to let in everybody."

"A lot of countries, especially the ones that have had tourism like the Philippines, are very open to travel because otherwise, the economy goes down and that you need the economy to work to stand the virus. You need to be very cautious on who you let in and you should not let in everybody," he said.

"You are going to get the infections back and you could infect the country and you could infect the community so you need to be very careful in who you let in," he added.

As part of the health measures for incoming travelers, Pueyo suggested imposing testing and quarantine protocols to limit the spread of the virus.

"You want to let the people from the countries that have the lowest prevalence and after that, you want to be very careful from the process to you let them in," he said.

"For example, somebody comes in from a very infected country, you might want to have a couple of weeks of quarantine for everybody. And maybe instead of that, if you really cannot afford to do that, at least everybody coming in gets the PCR test to know if they are infected or not."

Last March, Pueyo, a French and Spanish entrepreneur based in the United States, wrote the articles "Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now" and "Coronavirus: The Hammer and The Dance" that have have racked up over 40 million views.

His last article calls for governments to adopt the hammer or strict measures such as lockdown to contain the virus and buy time until there is a vaccine. Once the lockdown is lifted, countries may shift to dance period where people live with the virus but still follow protocols such as testing and quarantine.

In fighting the coronavirus outbreak, Pueyo said there would never be "one single bullet that is going to solve everything." Instead, he cited three strategies to combat the outbreak that "are important to do well.

"You don't want to get infected people in. Once they get in, you want to reduce as much as possible infections. And if you cannot reduce the enemy -- those infections, you want to catch them quickly, hence, neutralize them," he said. "The stronger you are in all three, the better you are going to be overall," he added.

He said South Korea and Taiwan have been "very good" in preventing the entry of infection into their countries, tracing close contacts of the infected, and placing them under quarantine. Due to the effective measures, he noted that they did not need to implement heavy measures such as closure of schools.

Pueyo admitted that hammer strategy is "very expensive" and worked well mostly in wealthy countries. He said the hammer only became effective in poor cities like Medellin, Colombia and Cordova, Argentina when the government went to the neighborhoods, conducted testing, and distributed food, water, and money to the people.

He also recognized that fighting the outbreak may be harder in areas with high population density like Metro Manila.

"That is going to be the biggest challenge. You have millions of people working very close to each other. Many of them can't just not stay home because they are going to starve and how do you handle that situation? As I mentioned, it is a very, very hard situation," he said.

Pueyo recommended scaling up efforts to test, trace and isolate people with the coronavirus "if a city like Manila wants to stop the virus."

"You need to find everybody who has the virus, find all the contacts and you need to isolate them either at home, either not infected or somewhere else if they are there's the isolation because if they are infected, they cannot stay home because if they stay home, they will infect the rest of the household and their neighbors," he added.

House, PCOO cases rise

Another House of Representatives employee was diagnosed with COVID- 19, bringing to 51 the total number of confirmed cases in the legislative chamber.

The number of COVID-19 cases at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) reached 132 on Saturday evening as more employees in the agency get tested for the disease.

The latest House employee to test positive belongs to the Bills and Index Service, the same office where the third COVID-19 fatality in the chamber was assigned.

The new COVID-19 patient reported for work on August 10 to 12, prompting the Office of the Secretary General to conduct immediate contact tracing.

"He was hospitalized for pneumonia and persistent hiccups. He is in stable condition," disclosed Secretary General Jose Luis Montales.

Of the 51 who tested positive for the dreaded disease in the Lower House, only seven have yet to recover.

Stricter health and safety measures have been put in place in the House in preparation for the resumption of regular session on Monday.

PCOO cases

Based on an update provided by Communications Assistant Secretary JV Arcena, the PCOO has recorded the following cases as of August 22: PCOO Proper - 13 active, 26 recovered, one death; PTV-4 - 16 active, two recovered, one death; APO Production Unit - eight active, two recovered, one death; Bureau of Broadcast Service (BBS) - one active, two recovered; National Printing Office (NPO) - 32 active; Philippine Information Agency (PIA) - seven recovered; Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) - three active, eight recovered; and News and Information Bureau (NIB) - five active, four recovered.

The number of recoveries at the PCOO climbed to 51 this week. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar has assured the public that the PCOO continues to take proactive measures to address the situation and that they immediately conducted another testing and contact tracing of the primary and secondary contacts of the newly infected staff.

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Title Annotation:National; Tomas Pueyo
Author:Kabiling, Genalyn; Rosario, Ben; Geducos, Argyll Cyrus
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Aug 23, 2020
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