The government on Monday raised its COVID-19 vaccination target from 70 million to 100 million people, representing 80 percent of the country’s eligible population.
The Department of Health (DOH) said it is considering a monthly nationwide vaccination drive to ramp up inoculation as Metro Manila and 38 other areas shift to Alert Level 1, the lowest in a five-step system.
“We will reach our targets in the coming months with the help of local governments,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a televised briefing.
The country has enough vaccine supply even if the Russian invasion of Ukraine would disrupt shipments.
The government is securing COVID-19 jabs for children ages 5 to 11, Nograles said.
“Right now, we’re confident we have enough vaccine supply. We’re so confident that we’re encouraging everyone who’s eligible to get their booster shots,” he said.
The Philippines has so far deployed 171 million vaccine doses and has stockpiles in its warehouses, Vergeire said.
The country has so far fully vaccinated 63 million people, while 68.7 million others have received an initial dose, and 10 million booster shots have been administered as of Sunday.
The Philippines logged 951 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the lowest daily case count recorded this year, bringing the total case count to 3,661,997.
The positivity rate was at 5 percent, based on 22,407 people tested for COVID-19 on Feb. 26.
There were 50 new fatalities reported, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 56,451.
The DOH also reported 1,717 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,553,367.
There were 52,179 active cases, of which 528 were asymptomatic; 47,157 were mild; 2,779 were moderate; 1,417 were severe; and 298 were critical.
Nationwide, 27 percent of ICU beds, 22 percent of isolation beds, 15 percent of ward beds, and 14 percent of ventilators, are in use.
In Metro Manila, 25 percent of ICU beds, 23 percent of isolation beds, 25 percent of ward beds, and 16 percent of ventilators, are in use.
The NCR is set to deescalate Tuesday to Alert Level, 1 which allows full capacity in public transportation and workplaces.
Despite the de-escalation, the COVID-19 pandemic is still not in the endemic state, Vegeire said.
“The pandemic is not over yet. COVID-19 is not yet endemic,” Vergeire said at the Palace briefing.
“(In our monitoring, if we see that cases are increasing—we are focused on the severe and critical and the utilization rate of facilities—that would be the signal for us to escalate the alert level,” she said.
Vergeire said that the government may shift its focus from COVID-19 numbers to the utilization rate in hospitals if most of the cases recorded nationwide and globally continue to be mild.
Two senators urged the government to ramp up vaccinations, including booster shots following a decline in COVID-19 cases.
Senator Christopher Go, chairman of the Senate committee on health, urged the government to improve the country’s vaccination rate.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said the declining COVID-19 cases should prompt authorities to vaccinate even more Filipinos and in more areas of the country.
Also on Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) urged repurposed RT-PCR laboratories to wait for its go signal before returning to their previous operations.
“They can use their laboratories again if COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in the country,” Vergeire said.
“But I am advising all laboratories, please wait until the DOH can provide guidance on when you can close down or repurpose your laboratories,” she said.
Vergeire said the virus is still present, and the country needs to be able to test for it.