MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte may reconsider authorizing a pilot test of face-to-face classes once the country has rolled out 2 million COVID-19 vaccines, a Malacañang official said on Thursday.
The country has so far vaccinated 8,559 individuals with COVID-19 shots from Beijing-based drug maker Sinovac Biotech, 600,000 doses of which were donated by China last Sunday. The Philippines is set to get later Thursday 487,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Britain's AstraZeneca.
Duterte in a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday said he wanted a "more rigorous, more widespread" vaccination before allowing limited in-person classes, and a shift to the loosest lockdown level, the modified general community quarantine, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
“Ang sabi nga niya is that unless he sees about, he gave a figure like 2 million vaccines being rolled out as a start, then that’s when he will start reconsidering about itong pagbubukas, more openly ng ating GCQ, General Community Quarantine areas, to consider again putting it under modified GCQ, and doon sa limited face-to-face classes,” he said.
Face-to-face classes, if allowed, will only be held in areas with low COVID-19 transmission rates, Nograles said in a televised press briefing.
The President in February rejected for a second time the proposed pilot test of limited face-to-face classes, which the education department had backed.
He also rejected calls for placing the capital region under MGCQ this March.
Metro Manila, which accounts for a third of the country's gross domestic product, has been under the third loosest lockdown since August.
One of Asia's fastest-growing economies before the pandemic, the Philippines last year suffered its worst gross domestic product contraction since the end of the Second World War.