MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Thursday, March 17, that the Philippines will likely remain under Alert Level 1 until the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, or until June 30, 2022.
Duque said this at the Laging Handa press briefing following discussions on further deescalating some areas in the country to “Alert Level 0.”
“Sa ngayon masyadong premature, masyado pang maaga, so Alert Level 1 muna tayo malamang hanggang sa katapusan ng termino ng ating Pangulong Duterte,” Duque said. (For now, it’s premature, too early, so we stay under Alert Level 1 maybe until the end of term of President Duterte.)
The health secretary said that government will instead focus on helping areas that are under Alert Level 2 to be deescalated to Alert Level 1.
It was Duque who floated the idea of creating the “Alert Level 0” status when he said a week ago that experts and government advisers were looking into it and whether the mandatory use of face masks would be retained, given the continued drop in coronavirus infections.
On Tuesday, March 15, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire clarified that “Alert Level 0” was a term they were using internally. She explained that it was not a “final term” yet as this might give the impression that “zero” means there woud be no virus threat anymore.
Metro Manila and some 47 other areas are under Alert Level 1 until the end of March.
Under Alert Level 1 or what the government considers as the “new normal,” establishments and public transportation are allowed to be fully operational. There are also no restrictions on the movement of people from different age groups, though this is subject to specific rules that may vary among local government units.
After reeling from the surge in infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continued to decline, with infections staying below 1,000 for over two weeks now. – Rappler.com