Quarantine restrictions have been eased in the provinces of Bulacan, Apayao and Capiz, which have been placed under a general community quarantine (GCQ) from Oct. 18 to 31, the Palace said Sunday.
Previously, Bulacan and Apayao were under a modified enhanced community quarantine, while Capiz was under GCQ with heightened restrictions, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) released quarantine classifications for provinces and cities outside of Metro Manila, which is pilot testing a new four-level alert system.
Under an MECQ are the provinces of Kalinga, Batanes, Bataan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna. Naga City and Zamboanga City are also under an MECQ, as is the province of Zamboanga del Norte.
Under a GCQ with heightened restrictions are: Abra, Baguio City, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, the City of Santiago, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Quezon and Batangas, all in Luzon.
In the Visayas, Bacolod City, Lapu-Lapu City, Negros Oriental, and Bohol are also under a GCQ with heightened restrictions.
With the same quarantine standing in Mindanao are Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, Davao de Oro, Butuan City and Surigao del Sur.
Under a GCQ are Ilocos Norte, Dagupan City, Ifugao, Benguet, Tarlac, Lucena City, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa, Marinduque, Albay and Camarines Norte.
In the Visayas, those under a GCQ are Aklan, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Cebu City, Cebu Province, Mandaue City, Siquijor and Tacloban City.
In Mindanao, those under a GCQ are Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Iligan City, Davao City, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Cotabato City and Lanao del Sur.
All other areas are under MGCQ.
Meanwhile, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel called on the government to deploy mobile vaccination resources to bring COVID-19 jabs “closer to hard-to-reach and high-risk sub-groups of the population.”
“Many Filipinos have not received their COVID-19 shots due to practical barriers that have prevented them from accessing vaccination services. The government has to reach out to these Filipinos with transportable vaccination teams,” he said.
Mobile inoculation services would enable the government to get to Filipinos who remain unvaccinated because of their social and economic situation, he said.
“There are people who cannot access vaccination services due to lack of public transportation, or due to family care or work schedules,” he said.
“Many of them cannot go to fixed vaccination sites because they are looking after children, the elderly or persons with disability all the time. We have to make it convenient for these Filipinos to access vaccination services,” he added.
The government is aiming to fully vaccinate 77 million Filipinos by yearend to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.
Last week, Congress gave the green light to allocate another P20 billion in funding for the purchase of additional COVID-19 vaccines in the P5.024-trillion 2022 national budget.
Pimentel said the House of Representatives also approved another P45.4 billion in unprogrammed appropriations in the budget “with standby authority” for the procurement of COVID-19 booster shots.
The Philippines has administered 52,157,598 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Sunday.
The National Covid-19 Vaccination Dashboard showed 27,921,074 were given as first doses while 24,236,524 were utilized as second doses.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, said the government has started to send the bulk of vaccines to areas outside the National Capital Region.
"Supply is no longer an issue for our country as of this time, as we now have adequate vaccines in our national inventory," Galvez said in a statement over the weekend.
He also commended local government units (LGUs) for their aggressive efforts to inoculate as many as possible despite confronting many challenges posed by the pandemic, including hesitancy and logistics. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
Galvez said inoculating more Filipinos will allow the country to achieve full economic recovery and hit population protection against the dreaded infection.
The Philippines has so far received 91,546,620 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including the latest delivery of 207,090 doses of the Pfizer jab on Saturday night.
Steady supplies also allowed the country to start the vaccination of minors with comorbidities in the National Capital Region on Friday, initially including those aged 15 to 17 years and the 12 to 14 age bracket next month.
The pilot rollout was held in eight hospitals in Metro Manila while the rollout in all 17 local government units will be on October 22 using one hospital each as vaccination site.
The regional rollout for areas that have fully vaccinated 50 percent of their senior citizens may begin on Nov. 5.
Also on Sunday, Senator Christopher Go urged the government to prepare and plan for the possible procurement of COVID-19 booster shots in the near future but said the priority for now should be on vaccinating the unvaccinated.
The chairman of the Senate health committee said there is PhP45.4 billion in the unprogrammed fund for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.