The Philippines, like the rest of the world, will exit from the current pandemic nature of COVID-19 to an endemic stage, where the virus becomes a regular fixture in a particular region or area, and one that will not go away.
The government this early is drawing up an exit strategy from the COVID-19 pandemic, encouraged by declining daily COVID-19 cases, an increasing vaccination rate across the Philippines and the milder effect of the Omicron strain on infected persons, especially those who have been inoculated.
The exit plan means lifting the many restrictions imposed by the government to contain the virus infection. Denmark early this week announced it was scrapping most of its pandemic restrictions, including the mandatory wearing of face masks. The European nation has declared that COVID-19 is no longer “a socially critical disease.” Denmark went ahead with the decision after fully vaccinating over 80 percent of its population and administering boosters shots to more than 60 percent of its people. As in the Philippines, Denmark’s health care system was not overwhelmed despite the increase in Omicron cases.
France is following in the footsteps of Denmark. Face masks in France are no longer mandatory outdoors, while working from home is now just a recommendation.
The Philippines may follow a similar track, but keeping the alert level system here may be the prudent option. The Philippines still lags in the vaccination rollout, especially in the countryside, compared with the advanced countries. Downgrading the COVID-19 situation to Alert Level 1, instead of doing away with the system, will keep Filipinos on their toes.
The World Health Organization has warned that it is too early for some nations to declare victory over COVID-19. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged “all countries to protect their populations using all available tools, not just vaccines.”
The Philippines will eventually overcome COVID-19 and fully reopen the economy in the very near future. Keeping some of the restrictions in the meantime, like the wearing of face masks, will make sure that the virus is effectively contained.