President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday agreed to retain the COVID-19 Alert Level System for time being even as he seeks to reclassify restrictions that are compatible with the current milder strains that afflict the patients.
This developed as health authorities said that they could come up with new alert level classification by mid-August.
Marcos said that the alert level could be adjusted or improved if people get their booster shots.
“To avoid confusion, we will retain the alert level system for now. We are however thinking, we are studying very closely, and we’ll come to a decision very soon as to decoupling the restrictions from the alert levels,” Marcos said during a meeting with Department of Health Officer-In-Charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Vergeire said the DOH could come up with new classifications by the second week of August.
At the same time, she said mid-August is a suitable period to loosen up to allay fears of the medical community and give them time to make COVID-19 cases more manageable.
The health official said the country is currently experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases because of the highly contagious Omicron BA.5 variant.
Based on current projections, more relaxed compliance to minimum public health standards (MPHS) would result in a higher number of COVID-19 cases, Vergeire said, noting, however, that it is preventable.
With the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, the virus’ immune-escaping mechanism also increased. Experts project that if eligible individuals do not take the jabs, the country will witness increased hospitalizations by September, according to Vergeire.
“So that’s why we really wanted to capture all of this eligible population bago dumating ‘yung time na projection na sinasabing September,” she said.
The DOH is also reconstituting the member agencies of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to only those with relevant and intended functions.
Pending the reconstitution, Vergeire said they will streamline IATF meetings and processes with clear directives to assist in safe reopening and will be utilizing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) platform.
The platform will replace the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) to integrate it with the regular processes.
This will allow the IATF health expert groups to continue their work as they serve as the voice of science in the country. (PND)