As Metro Manila and its nearby provinces in the so-called NCR Bubble prepare for the Enhanced Community Quarantine on Friday, we find the call by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año for the need to have COVID-19 vaccination offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in Metro Manila to prevent the further spread of the storming coronavirus.
Año was interviewed on CNN Philippines, where he added local government units would go overtime and set evening schedules for the vaccinations amid stricter restrictions in Metro Manila.
According to the Department of Health, half of the country’s provinces and cities have been reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days, with Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire saying there has also been a rise in COVID-19 related deaths.
“Severe and critical cases are rising… We need to focus on our vulnerable population so that we can stop the deaths in our country,” she said in Filipino.
Vergeire said while the DOH assumes there is community transmission of the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, there were also reports of several violations of public health protocols.
Later, in a report to President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the impact of the Delta variant was “now observed nationally and in select regions and areas,” also pointing to the increase “in cases and/or health care utilization.”
The government should also consider “implementing higher CQ (community quarantine) as a preemptive measure to contain Delta VOC (variant of concern) spread,” Duque said in a presentation slide.
Several hospitals in Metro Manila are now on high alert amid the local transmission of the Delta variant, according to treatment czar and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega.
In a 24 Oras TV report, Vega said the One Hospital Command has been receiving over 200 calls per day due to COVID-19 — over double its previous 90 to 100 calls daily.
Metro Manila registered an average of 1,394 new COVID-19 cases daily from July 26 to August 1, “a 46 percent increase from the previous week” during which 953 new infections were recorded each day, the independent OCTA Research group said Monday.
In Manila, Mayor Isko Moreno has barred the plan of the LGU to open a 24/7 COVID-19 vaccination,to be done starting Friday, the start of the ECQ until August 20.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. himself said Metro Manila mayors had agreed to continue with the 250,000 vaccinations a day during the two-week reimposed enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region.
Earlier on, the National Task Force against COVID-19 recommended the vaccination of Metro Manila residents even if they do not belong to any priority group.
The recommendation came after the request of Metro Manila Mayors for a supply of four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines was approved.
At the same time, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya has said the government can administer 250,000 COVID-19 jabs daily in Metro Manila during its two-week enhanced community quarantine.
The number of jabs administered in the capital region last Saturday reached 187,000.
Metro Manila residents scheduled for their COVID-19 vaccination will be authorized to leave their homes – the same line used by the Department of health – Malaya said, ruling out house-to-house vaccination for the general public. But bedridden residents may avail themselves of home vaccination, he added.
Some 9,115,963 individuals have received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Sunday, while a total 20,863,544 jabs have been administered, according to government data.
It is sad that while the number of senior citizens inoculated against COVID-19 went up during recent weeks, the figure is still below the target.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an ANC interview: “Of late, these past two weeks, we were able to increase the number of those senior citizens being vaccinated but of course it’s still not reaching that target that we would want.”
As of July 25, about 2.8 million senior citizens have gotten a COVID-19 jab, 1.6 million of whom are fully vaccinated.
The government is aiming to vaccinate around 9 million senior citizens.
Last week, the World Health Organization expressed concern over the “unacceptable” low rate of vaccination of senior citizens despite there being enough supplies for them.