Marcos not lifting state of public health emergency yet

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 17) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday said he won't lift the state of public health emergency due to COVID-19 yet and he will likely have it in force until the end of the year.

Marcos said that lifting the state of public health emergency might only affect the supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the country. 

"Yes, we were just discussing it with Usec. [Ma. Rosario] Vergeire. Kasi maraming mga binibigay sa international medical community kapag state of emergency. WHO [World Health Organization] is one of them," Marcos told reporters in a chance interview when asked if he would extend the state of public health emergency.

[Translation: Yes, we were just discussing it with Usec. Vergeire. We noted many supplies are given to the international medical community when there is a state of emergency.]

"Kapag itigil natin yung (If we stop the) state of emergency, matitigil 'yun (that supplies wiil stop)," he added. " We are looking at amending the law in terms of procurement and all of that in the middle of an emergency. That will take time so malamang (so most likely) we will extend it until the end of the year."

The state of public health emergency and the state of calamity were both declared by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2020.

A state of public health emergency calls on citizens and tourists to comply with the law and other directives by the government to prevent further transmission of COVID-19. Such declaration shall remain in force until lifted or withdrawn by the President.

Meanwhile, a state of calamity will afford the national government and local government units to utilize appropriate funds, including the quick response fund in COVID-19 response efforts.

Lifting the state of calamity, which is slated to last until September 12, would invalidate the emergency use authorization and compassionate special permits issued by the Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19 vaccines.

As of Aug. 17, data from the Department of Health showed there have been 3,840,943 COVID-19 cases nationwide. Of this number, 35,101 are active cases.

Meanwhile, more than 72 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The government recently launched a campaign to inoculate more senior citizens and provide boosters to the target population in the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.