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Mobility curbs limiting impact of Delta variant
UK-based Pantheon Macroeconomics senior Asia economist Miguel Chanco said the Delta variant’s relatively longer period to circulate in the Philippines could be due to the travel restrictions still in effect nationwide.
AFP/Arun Sankar

Mobility curbs limiting impact of Delta variant

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With mobility still limited particularly in the National Capital Region, the economic impact of the more dangerous coronavirus Delta variant would not be felt until the last quarter of the year, an international think tank said.

UK-based Pantheon Macroeconomics senior Asia economist Miguel Chanco said the Delta variant’s relatively longer period to circulate in the Philippines could be due to the travel restrictions still in effect nationwide.

Nonetheless, he emphasized that it is only a matter of time before the more transmissible variant of COVID-19 becomes the dominant strain in the country, causing yet another surge in cases.

“There’s no reason to believe that the country is immune to the problem now facing most ASEAN member states,” Chanco said.

“It’s just that mobility levels were largely depressed compared with the likes of Indonesia and Thailand, where conditions were closer to near-normal prior to their Delta spikes,” he said.

Mobility and travel indicators have been showing that the country is still recovering from the lull caused by the second wave in March and April.

In its latest monitor, Pantheon also affirmed this, saying the economic hit is unlikely to come until the fourth quarter with the expectations of another last-minute tightening of curbs.

“Admittedly, the economy’s prospects in the current quarter are likely to be spared, not least because the government has demonstrated consistently an unwillingness to impose the stringent social distancing measures needed until the very last minute,” Chanco said.

“At this point, it seems inevitable. Countries with much higher rates of vaccination like Indonesia and Thailand have been left with little choice but to reimpose new restrictions,” he said.

According to Pantheon, when the Delta variant was spotted in Indonesia last April, trips to retail and recreation venues were 14 percent below the pre-pandemic norm, higher than the current -22 percent print for the Philippines.

Google’s mobility data also show that the time people are spending at home in the Philippines presently is 10 percentage points higher than in Indonesia three months ago.

Footfall in transit stations showed the largest disparity at -27 percent in Indonesia versus the -40 percent in the Philippines.

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