COVID-19 must be declared endemic to shift to alert 0
MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 must be declared as endemic, or treated like an ordinary illness, for alert level zero to be imposed in the country, according to Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III.
The government’s pandemic managers are studying the metrics for a possible alert level zero amid a continuing decline in coronavirus infections in the country.
“One important thing that has to happen is COVID-19 must be declared to be endemic. When we say it is endemic, this means this is an ordinary illness that we would deal with in our everyday lives and it will not affect the entire country,” Densing said at the Laging Handa briefing.
Under alert level zero, the limitations on the entry of unvaccinated people in certain areas would be done away with, he said.
He also said that under this level, the local government would be the front-liner in handling the situation.
“One of the things we would do is to strengthen our local government so that we could address the potential endemics in an area including COVID-19,” he said.
The national government and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would only enter the picture if the illness spreads to the rest of the country, he said.
He also said that as long COVID-19 has yet to be declared endemic, the public needs to be vaccinated and to get their booster shot.
90% vax coverage
The country must first reach a 90-percent vaccination coverage before the government moves ahead with declaring a possible “alert level zero,” infectious specialist Dr. Rontgene Solante said on Friday.
Solante, who is also a Vaccine Expert Panel member, said that achieving a 90-percent vaccination rate was an important factor to consider before the country was put under another less restrictive alert level.
“In an alert level zero [scenario,] it’s treated like an ordinary infection—like an influenza … or even dengue … An important factor there is that our [country’s] vaccination should reach 90 percent,” Solante said at the Laging Handa briefing on Friday.
Gov’t should not rush
While the country “may be ready” for an “alert level zero” due to the steady decline of COVID-19 cases and low healthcare utilization rate, he said that the government should “be cautious in interpreting data and should not rush into declaring alert level zero.”
According to OCTA Research’s monitoring report, Metro Manila has the highest number of new cases among regions and provinces, with 152 infections recorded on Thursday.
Metro Manila was followed by Cavite (41 new cases), Cebu (38), Iloilo (33); and Benguet and South Cotabato, each with 17 new cases.
Among cities and a lone town in Metro Manila, the city of Manila reported the highest number of cases, with 25 new infections. It was followed by the cities of Quezon City (23), Caloocan (18), Pasig (13), Taguig (13) and Pasay (12).
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