Año: Gov’t mulling 24/7 vaccinations to counter COVID-19 Delta variant
MANILA, Philippines — The national government is looking at opening anti-COVID-19 vaccination facilities in Metro Manila until late at night or even 24/7 so that more people in the nation’s capital region can be inoculated amid the Delta variant scare.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Monday that four million doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccines have been committed to Metro Manila, a development relayed to metro mayors last Friday.
To ensure that vaccination is ramped up even when the National Capital Region (NCR) returns to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting August 6, Año said operation hours of vaccination sites may be extended.
“Well first ang pinaka-importante ma-ramp up din natin ‘yong vaccinations kahit na hanggang gabi nagbabakuna tayo,” the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief told CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“I am amenable to that, and in fact, we will employ additional law enforcement officers in vaccination sites, to ensure that there (is) order in the vaccination including personnel from the Bureau of Fire, we’ll have standby ambulances. So 24 hours a day is okay with me para lang matapos natin ‘yong four million at least, na four million na vaccines, and kung may madadagdag pa, mas mabuti,” he added.
(So 24 hours a day is okay with me so that we can vaccinate four million, at least we administer the four million vaccines, and if ever more doses would come in, then that’s better.)
Año was answering questions about whether the government has any other plans aside from placing lockdowns, given that Metro Manila and nearby areas would be having its third ECQ status ever since the Luzon-wide lockdown from March 2020 to May 2020.
Last Friday, Malacañang announced that President Rodrigo Duterte had already approved the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) resolution putting Metro Manila under ECQ from August 6-20 in the face of threats from the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.
But the previous surges were spurred by different variants of the COVID-19 pandemic: the most recent surge that started late last March and lasted up to May was due to the Alpha variant initially discovered in the United Kingdom.
The Delta variant, which analytics group OCTA Research fears is already spreading in Metro Manila, is considered to be 60 percent more infectious than the Alpha variant — which is already 60 percent more infectious than the original SARS-CoV-2 first detected in China’s Wuhan province.
Alpha and Delta variants were just two of several variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the serious respiratory illness COVID-19. The variants were brought about by mutations of the SARS-CoV-2.
Año said that the lockdowns are necessary since health experts have predicted that active case count may climb to around 500,000 by September 30 if stop-gap measures like the ECQ status are not implemented.
In comparison, active COVID-19 infections were at 203,000 at one point during the Alpha variant-led surge.
“So itong ating lockdown is just really to mitigate, to control and to maximize vaccinations. Sabi nga ng mga health experts natin, ‘pag hindi tayo magla-lockdown, aabot tayo ng mga 500,000 new cases a day by September 30,” Año explained.
(So our lockdowns are just really to mitigate, to control, and to maximize vaccinations. Health experts have said that if we do not go into lockdowns, we would reach 500,000 new cases by September 30.)
“Although sa projection kahit na aangat pa rin tayo maybe up to 30,000 at the end of September, pero at least hindi tayo aabot sa three digits and by then marami na tayong nabakunahan, so magsasalubong ‘yan, at gaganda ‘yong ating situation plus ‘yong strict enforcement ng mga minimum public health standard, so maganda rin ‘yong ating nakikita na future,” he added.
(Although by the projections, we would still see an increase in cases of maybe up to 30,000 at the end of September, at least it would not be a three-digit increase and many people have been vaccinated, so that would factor into the improvement of our situation. Plus the strict enforcement of minimum public health standards contributes to a possibly good future.)
It appears that several Metro Manila local government units are also gearing up for a possible 24/7 COVID-19 vaccination site. In a post on Manila City Mayor Francsico “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s official Facebook page, the city is calling for volunteers like nurses, doctors, other health professionals, and computer-literate assistants that could help staff the city’s 24/7 inoculation drive.
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