The Philippine government may do another campaign to vaccinate young people against COVID-19, following a marked increase in cases in the country, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said.
“It looks like we will have to conduct again, especially for young people. We’ll have to conduct again a vaccination push para mabawasan yan, especially with the people being a little bit, shall we say, nahihirapan na nga eh, dahil sa init… humihina ang katawan, that will make them vulnerable to COVID again,” he said.
OCTA Research Group said the weekly COVID-19 positivity rate in Metro Manila rose to 14.3 percent as of April 27, up from 9 percent on April 20. Deaths and hospitalizations in the capital region due to COVID-19 remained low at 22 percent, adding that "NCR has reported close to zero deaths."
The increase in COVID cases comes amid the possible spread of omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, known as "Arcturus," in the country.
XBB.1.16 is a descendent lineage of XBB, a recombinant of two BA.2 descendent lineages.
The new COVID-19 variant has the ability to evade immunity and is believed to be more transmissible, the Department of Health said.
The WHO designated the XBB.1.16 as a variant of interest or VOI last week following a sustained increase in its prevalence.
It has so far spread to 33 countries.
Meanwhile, the President said he may look into a possible reimposition of the mandatory facemask rule following the increase of COVID-19 cases, but noted that the numbers remain small.
“We might have to think about it. Ako, ang tinitignan ko, is because, although the rate of increase lumalaki, ang baseline natin na sinimulan ay maliit lang. So hopefully we are still able to do it,” Marcos Jr told reporters.