Caution needed

Caution needed

Photo courtesy of PNA

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently stressed the importance of vaccination or booster protection against the coronavirus 2019 which has mutated with several subvariants, particularly as the country is preparing for face-to-face classes later this month.

We agree with the President that conducting face-to-face classes is not that simple, and the President is on track in emphasizing that this could be done successfully with proper presentation.

In his YouTube vlog, the President said we must ensure everyone has availed themselves of booster shots, particularly the young in the population to be sure their bodies are ready when they return to school.

The Department of Education earlier announced that the academic year 2022-2023 will officially begin on August 22, and with a target of 203 school days, the school year will end on July 7, 2023.

The President has noted that about 15.2 million learners are expected to enroll this school year, interestingly a little less than the number of about 15.9 million who have received their first booster shots while only 1.2 million have received their second booster shots.

But we must also listen to what a pediatric infectious disease expert, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, has said that even with the go-ahead for in-person classes from August 22, school administrations should not adopt a “business-as-usual” attitude in their operations.

In her words, there is a need to be critical in thinking about what school children and even adults do in school.

Lim strongly suggests to school authorities the need to rethink letting recess or break time in school, stressing that this is not necessary, especially if children attend classes for only half a day.

Sounds logical.

In a mix of Filipino and English, Lim asked: “Will there be a need for recess if they spend only half a day in school? The child will not easily get hungry then, or the school can issue an advisory that there will be no recess, so the kids should eat proper breakfast before going to classes.

We are persuaded by the thought that having breaks is possible, but this needs to be carefully thought out and discussed.

She added: “It is really a big paradigm shift, and the concept that you need to go to school every day is changing now. Because if you don’t feel good or you feel you have symptoms, you should not attend classes because you might possibly infect others.”

The President himself has said these numbers of those vaccinated are not yet good compared to the government’s target of 100 percent, reason the national government keeps telling the local governments “to be more aggressive” in this campaign to have the booster shots.

Earlier on, President Marcos said there was no need for a law making booster shots mandatory but maintained that the jabs help a lot in preventing severe COVID-19 cases.

Very recently, the national government launched the “PinasLakas” campaign aimed at administering COVID-19 booster shots to 23.8 million persons within Marcos’ first 100 days in office from June 30 when he took his presidential oath.

The President said: “If this campaign succeeds, it would not only mean a return to school but also a return of businesses, livelihood, and development (and) will be a huge help to our extensive efforts to reopen the economy.”

And then the other day health authorities reported 4,203 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the number of confirmed cases in this country reeling from various subvariants of the coronavirus to 3,808,156.

The Department of Health said the number of active cases rose further to 37,942, and 30 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the death toll to 60,807, reporting additionally more than 4,000 daily caseload for the fifth straight day.

Guido David, a professor at the University of the Philippines and OCTA research fellow, said the infections will continue until the next few months, citing a “very high” positivity rate of over 20 percent in several areas.

The positivity rate is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those who have been tested. The key rate hit a record high at 47.9 percent in January this year.

The Philippines reported its highest COVID-19 single-day tally of 39,004 new cases on Jan. 15. The country, with a population of around 111 million.

We are glad that under the PinasLakas drive, the Department of Health is targeting to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the population or 78.1 million Filipinos and provide first boosters to 50 percent of the eligible population.
We understand the United Nations in the Philippines has expressed support for DepEd’s plan to implement full face-to-face classes next school year.

Reopening schools “as soon as possible with five days a week in-person classes” is among the priority actions the UN is advocating.

But given the increasing cases, again, of infections, caution is needed. (ai/mtvn)

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