The Philippines is recalibrating its COVID-19 pandemic response with a pilot test of a new lockdown system, and new travel protocols in light of rising infections driven by the hyper contagious coronavirus Delta variant.
After surpassing two million total COVID-19 cases and with over 20,000 new infections for three straight days, the new international travel protocols, and the shift to granular or local lockdowns from region and province-wide restrictions have raised questions on the timing.
The government is working on a "new strategy," Malacañang said Monday after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered top Cabinet officials to study whether street-wide lockdowns would be better than large-scale ones.
"The truth of the matter is apparently the ECQ as we practice it may not be enough so we're trying to come up with a new strategy," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, referring to the strictest community quarantine type.
Here are some of the changes the government is making in the country's pandemic response:
Granular lockdowns will be tested in Metro Manila.
Granular lockdowns will be tested in the capital region starting Sept. 8. This means that mayors will be given the authority to restrict movement in their own localities--from the street level up to the municipal or city-wide level.
"It will be literally a complete lockdown kapag ikaw ay subject to granular lockdown," Roque said.
There's a new Red-Yellow-Green international travel system.
Starting Monday, Sept. 6, blanket travel bans will become a thing of the past as the Philippines adopts a new Red-Yellow-Green system that will limit international arrival.
Countries will be classified based on their COVID incidence rate, or cumulate cases over 28 days per 100,000 population, case counts or cumulative cases over the past 28 days and COVID-19 testing, according to the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.
This is based on their respective incidence rates and case counts as primary criteria, and testing data as secondary criteria.
VaxCert PH is here.
To unify the different COVID-19 vaccine cards nationwide, the Philippines soft launched on Monday its digital vaccine certificate known as VaxCert PH.
For now, only Overseas Filipino Workers and those traveling for emergency purposes will be granted a vaccination certificate. The soft launch covers those from Metro Manila and Baguio, with expansion to other areas to come in the next weeks.