Duque: COVID-19 vaccines need electricity restored in typhoon-hit areas


Posted at Dec 17 2021 11:45 PM | Updated as of Dec 18 2021 01:17 AM

Video courtesy of PTV

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday vaccines and other medical supplies needed for curbing COVID-19 require electricity to be restored as soon as possible in areas hit by typhoon Odette. 

The National Vaccination Operations Center is coordinating with the military to check inoculation sites and the cold chain facilities where COVID-19 shots are stored in the central and southern Philippines, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. 

He said he received information that Odette tore the roofs off some health facilities.

"Nakikita rin po natin ang posibleng issue sa ating mga COVID-19 test kits at specimens kung magtatagal ang pagbalik ng kuryente sa mga apektadong lugar," he said in a televised briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte. 

(We also see a possible issue with COVID-19 test kits and specimens if it takes long before electricity returns in affected areas.) 

"Ginagamit ko po ang pagkakataon ito na makiusap sa Department of Energy na siguraduhin ang ating restoration ng power lines. Ang kuryente ay napakahalaga po, lalo na dito po sa mga lugar kung saan po andoon ang ating logistics for our vaccination program," continued Duque. 

(I am using this opportunity to ask the Department of Energy to ensure the restoration of power lines. Electricity is very important, especially in areas where our logistics for our vaccination program are located.)

Acting Public Works Secretary Roger Mercado said he has yet to get specific reports on infrastructure damage because power and communication lines are down in the storm-hit areas. 

"We cannot really determine yet, but we expect big damage," he said. 

Odette was at one point a super typhoon under the US classification. It made landfall over 9 areas, bringing heavy rains, damaging homes, and forcing some 300,000 to flee their homes.

The country's 15th storm and one of the strongest this year is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Saturday.

Odette earlier this week forced 11 regions to postpone their participation in a mass vaccination drive against COVID-19. 

The Philippines so far fully vaccinated 43 million of its 109 million population.