Philippines likely to stay under Alert Level 1 until end of Duterte’s term -Duque
The Philippines may remain under Alert Level 1 until President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends on June 30, 2022, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.
During a Laging Handa briefing, Duque said that they are still studying the possibility of further de-escalating to Alert Level 0 and no policies have been made yet regarding that.
He said the government is focused on helping areas under Alert Level 2 so they could be downgraded to Alert Level 1 by ramping up vaccination coverage, particularly among senior citizens.
“‘Yan muna ang ating pagtuunan ng pansin kaysa ‘yung pag-usapan na ‘yang Alert Level 0. Maayos naman tayo sa Alert Level 1. Tingin ko baka ito ay hanggang sa katapusan na,” he said.
“Alert Level 1 muna tayo malamang hanggang sa katapusan ng termino ng ating Pangulong Duterte,” he added.
(We’re focus on that first rather than talk about Alert Level 0. We’re fine with Alert Level 1. I think maybe we will implement it until the end of President Duterte’s term.)
Duque previously said elements of Alert Level 0 would still be discussed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases along with other government advisers.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority earlier said mayors in the National Capital Region — the country’s main economic hub — are ready for Alert Level 0.
Duque, however, underscored that the country’s alert level status will still depend on the possible mutations of the COVID-19 or the hospital utilization rate.
He also stressed that the time is not yet rite to remove the mandatory wearing of face masks as there are still COVID-19 infections in the country although the number has already decreased to below 1,000 per day.
“Let us be prudent and let us be guided by data and science through our expert panel. Konting pasensya, but pinag-aaralan po ‘yan. Darating at darating ang panahon na kung kailangan magtanggal ng mask ay bakit naman hindi? Pero sa ngayon, masyadong premature. Masyado pang maaga,” he said.
(Be patient as we’re still studying that. The time will come when it is already okay not to wear face mask. But for now, it’s too premature, too early.)
So far, only 48 areas in the country, including the NCR, are under Alert Level 1.
Under Alert Level 1, intrazonal and interzonal travel shall be allowed without regard to age and comorbidities. All establishments, persons, or activities, are allowed to operate, work, or be undertaken at full on-site or venue/seating capacity provided it is consistent with minimum public health standards.
Bayanihan, Bakunahan 4
Meanwhile, National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. noted that 1,400,889 vaccine doses were so far administered during the fourth wave of the “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” national vaccination drive.
The regions that administered the most number of vaccine doses during this initiative were Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, and Ilocos Region.
The Bayanihan, Bakunahan 4 was initially held from March 10 to 12 and was extended until Friday, March 18, targeting to vaccinate 1.8 million more Filipinos against the viral disease.
Based on the NTF’s report on Wednesday, a total of 64,838,213 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated, while 11,291,687 individuals have received booster shots or additional doses.
The government is eyeing to fully vaccinate 90 million by the time Duterte steps down from office. —KBK, GMA News