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Duque on gov’t pandemic exit plan: More like learning to live with COVID-19

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BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Health Secretary Francisco Doque administers the ceremonial booster jab during the launching Resbakuna sa Botika at the Ayala Mall Mercury Drug Store in Bacolod City, witnessed by Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez, Secretary Vince Dizon, USec Junji Gonzalez, Gov Eugenio Jose Lacson and Mayor Evelio Leonardia.* GPB photo

Preparations for the government is now underway to begin the country’s exit plan from pandemic, “which is more like really learning to live with COVID-19” disclosed Health Secretary Francisco Duque Jr.yesterday.

“We are considering institutionalizing the alert leveling system, much like typhoon signal warnings, because we are also foreseeing future pandemics are not anything, but unusual,” Duque, who led the Resbakuna sa Botika launching at the Ayala Mall Mercury Drug Store in Bacolod City, said.

Duque added “we have to prepare to make sure that this is put in place, that anytime that the situation calls for it, we can readily calibrate the equivalent response for every level of this alert levelling station.”

Earlier, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and molecular biologist OCTA research fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco urged the government to begin the country’s exit plan from the pandemic.

“It is time for the national government to transition our people from a pandemic to an endemic mindset,” Concepcion and Austriaco said in a letter to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr.

Galvez, who joined Duque and Secretary Vince Dizon, Deputy Chief Implementer and Testing Czar, yesterday said that the country’s vaccination already reached more than 75 percent of the targeted population.

Our main goal is 90 million vaccinated Filipinos by the second quarter of the year, he said, adding that they are expecting to inoculate 15.6 million of those aged 5 to 11 years old.

Dizon also reported that the pedia vaccination has been moved to February 7, instead of February 4 and 5, due to delay in the transport of 780,000 Pfizer vaccines for minors, which also expected to arrive in the country today.

“Vaccination is the game changer,” Duque said.

He reported that 85 percent of 10,000 of those admitted at hospitals due to Omicron variant are unvaccinated, and 93 percent of those died are also unvaccinated.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson reported that the provincial government of Negros Occidental has already vaccinated 60 percent of their targeted population for vaccination, equivalent to P1.2 million Negrenses.

A total of 1,875,370 Negrenses need to be vaccinated further to achieve the 70 percent requirement for herd immunity.

Bacolod City, on the other hand, reported that 91 percent of its targeted population for inoculation are fully vaccinated.

“Our goal is really to make this as a common colds,” Duque said, apparently referring to COVID-19.*

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