MANILA (UPDATED) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the lifting of the Philippines' COVID-19 public health emergency status.
In signing Proclamation No. 297 issued on Friday, Marcos cited the continued immunization and decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines and the existing safety and travel protocols.
He said while the COVID-19 remains a "serious concern for certain subpopulations," the Philippines has maintained a sufficient healthcare system capacity and low hospital bed utilization rates.
"All prior orders, memoranda, and issuances that are effective only during the State of Public Health Emergency shall be deemed withdrawn, revoked or canceled and shall no longer be in effect," the proclamation read.
"All EUA (emergency use authorization) issued by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 121 (s. 2020) shall remain valid for a period of one year from the date of lifting of the State of Public of Public Health Emergency for the sole purposes of exhausting the remaining vaccines," the proclamation also said.
All government agencies and offices were told to ensure policies and rules would take into consideration the proclamation.
Marcos' predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, announced in March 2020 the declaration of a public health emergency to accelerate the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May this year, the World Health Organization said it no longer considers COVID-19 a global health emergency.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Health Secretary Ted Herbosa welcomed the proclamation, saying this shows that the country is on its road to recovery.
In a statement, the Department of Health said the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) will gather for a last meeting and to come up with a comprehensive final report.
"This report will encapsulate the tireless efforts and dedication of the IATF, the medical frontliners, and the entire government in combatting the challenges posed by the pandemic," said the DOH.
Herbosa and Estrada reminded the public, however, that the fight against COVID-19 is still not over even if the state of public health emergency has already been lifted.
"While we celebrate this development, we must remain vigilant and continue to follow health guidelines to ensure that the gains we have made are sustained," said Estrada.