The Philippines could roll out a new set of COVID restrictions by mid-August, with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. saying that these should reflect relatively milder coronavirus strains, Malacañang said Tuesday.
To avoid confusion in the interim, Marcos said the current Alert Level system will stay. Most of the country, including Metro Manila, are under Alert Level 1, or the loosest set of restrictions, as infections spike, driven by yet another new sub-variant of omicron.
"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 was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.
Department of Health officer-in-charge Usec. Rosario Vergeire, in the same statement, said the new classifications could be ready by mid-August.
The DOH reported a total of 14,640 new COVID-19 cases for the period of July 11 to 17 for an average of 2,091 a day, 44% higher than the cases on July 4 to 10. Vergeire said the recent uptick in cases was becauses of the highly contagious Omicron BA.5 variant.
While more relaxed compliance to minimum public health standards would result in a higher number of cases, this is preventable, Vergeire said. If eligible individuals will not get themselves vaccinated, more hospitalizations will be seen by September, she added.
“So that’s why we really wanted to capture all of this eligible population bago dumating ‘yung time na projection na sinasabing September,” Vergeire said.
Marcos earlier called on the public to get themselves a booster shot against COVID-19 after he himself recovered from the disease for the second time.