Palace: Extension of COVID-19 state of calamity rests on DOH recommendation

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2022 01:39 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2022 02:03 PM

Eligible Makati residents line up to get their second booster shots against COVID-19 inside a mall in Makati City a day after the Department of Health (DOH) issued guidelines for its nationwide rollout on July 28, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Eligible Makati residents line up to get their second booster shots against COVID-19 inside a mall in Makati City a day after the Department of Health (DOH) issued guidelines for its nationwide rollout on July 28, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News


MANILA — The potential extension of the state of calamity declaration in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic rests on the health department's recommendation, Malacañang said Thursday, as an uptick in fresh infections continued. 
 
"It (extension) will depend on the recommendation of the DOH," Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a Palace briefing. 

"We will make the announcement when the time comes," she added.

The country's state of calamity declaration is set to lapse on Sept. 12, 2022. If it is not extended, COVID-19 vaccines' emergency use authorization will "cease to be valid", the DOH earlier said. 

Government's emergency procurement, tax exemptions for donors, price controls for COVID-19 drugs and testing kits, and health workers' benefits will also cease once the state of calamity ends, according to the agency. 

The declaration also empowers local governments to implement the COVID-19 vaccination program and tap emergency funds to respond to the health crisis.

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President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. last month ordered authorities to look into extending the declaration. 

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that before the state of calamity is lifted, the wall of immunity against COVID-19 should be high and booster coverage must be ramped up. 

The DOH has instructed the Food and Drug Administration to coordinate with vaccine manufacturers to determine their readiness to apply for a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) needed to make COVID-19 shots commercially available.

During his first State of the Nation Address last month, Marcos said government would no longer implement COVID-19 lockdowns. He also promised to build a vaccine institute and a center for disease control and prevention. 

The Philippines has so far logged a total of 3,813,952 COVID-19 infections, of which 36,035 cases remained active, the DOH said on Wednesday. 

At least 71.9 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, of whom 16.2 million have received their booster shots.