Cabinet exec: Looser quarantine, in-person classes possible in Q2

02-Mar-2021 Intellasia | PhilStar | 5:02 AM Print This Post

President Rodrigo Duterte may agree to ease restrictions nationwide and to hold face-to-face classes in the second quarter of 2021 if the government sustains a stockpile of at least two million vaccine doses, a Cabinet official said Monday.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines is expected to receive 5.1 million COVID-19 shots within the first quarter and another 26 million shots by the second quarter. He said the bulk of the jabs may arrive in the second half of the year.

“So, more or less, we will have about 50 to 60 million (shots) each in the third quarter and fourth quarter,” Galvez said at a press briefing.

“He (President Duterte) said that as long as we have two million (shots) on standby…that means, if we sustain that, we can hold face-to-face (classes) and downgrade to MGCQ (modified general community quarantine),” he added, referring to the most lenient quarantine status.

Galvez said the further reopening of the economy and the holding of in-person classes is possible in the second quarter. He said he has spoken with the finance department and vaccine negotiators to ensure that the two million stockpile requirement is complied with.

“So once we have that stockpile and we will maintain it two to five million, we can now convince the president to open the economy and also have the face-to-face education,” the vaccine czar said.

“It’s possible in the second quarter, about mid-second quarter,” he added.

Galvez said the Philippines’ vaccine stockpile may reach 10 million doses in the second quarter with the expected arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines in May and the 6.5 million doses acquired through the COVAX facility, and the procurement of Novavax jabs.

Duterte said last Sunday he is willing to further reopen the economy now that the Philippines has received COVID-19 vaccines. The president, however, is still against the holding of face-to-face classes, saying it might jeopardise the safety of students.

He has also predicted that the Philippines would return to normal in 2023.

Areas that are still under the stricter general community quarantine are Metro Manila, Baguio City, Davao City, Batangas, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Lanao del Sur, and will remain so all month.

Only about half of the industries can operate under the classification.

The National Economic and Development Authority had recommended placing the entire Philippines under MGCQ but Duterte rejected it, saying the vaccination programme should start first.

Duterte initially allowed the conduct of a pilot in-person classes in low-risk areas but it was canceled as a precautionary measure against the new and more infectious COVID-19 variant.


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