The government can now refocus on the country’s economic development following the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID-19 no longer represents a global health emergency, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Monday.
Mr. Marcos mentioned this during a reception hosted by the Asian Development Bank in Mandaluyong City, as he expressed gratitude to the Manila-based lender for all its assistance to the Philippines, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With this development, we can now refocus our plans and priorities and train our size with renewed vigor, carefully guided by the stinging lessons of the pandemic, we can now refocus our priorities on the development of our economy and the betterment of the lives of ordinary Filipinos,” the President said.
However, the COVID-19 positivity rate in the National Capital Region (NCR) increased slightly last week to 25.7%, data released Monday by independent monitoring group OCTA Research showed.
OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David said NCR’s positivity rate — the percentage of people who were found positive for COVID-19 among the total number of individuals tested — was “almost flat” from 25.4% on May 13, to 25.7% on May 20.
“In NCR, it was almost flat from 25.4% to 25.7% suggesting that it may be decreasing this week,” he said in a tweet.
David said, however, that the WHO’s declaration does not mean abandoning the universal health protocols.
“Thankfully, because of swift breakthroughs in virology and vaccinology, communities were able to build effective response systems while humanity was able to boost its immune system,” Mr. Marcos said.
The President recalled that when he met with the ADB’s Board of Governors last September, he highlighted the need for the Philippines to “safely navigate through the waters of the post-pandemic world.”
“The pandemic did not blur our national vision… Our goal remains to be the same as in pre-pandemic circumstances. Our goal is to evolve our economy into one that is defined by sustainability, climate resilience, responsiveness, and of course inclusivity,” Mr. Marcos said.
A Reuters report said the WHO’s emergency committee first declared that COVID represented its highest level of alert on January 30, 2020. The status helps focus international attention on a health threat as well as bolstering collaboration on vaccines and treatments.
Lifting it is a sign of the progress the world has made in these areas, but COVID-19 is here to stay, the WHO has said, even if it no longer represents an emergency.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos expressed hope that the ADB will continue “to be there by our side to lend its support throughout our transformative journey.”
In another development, Isabela’s positivity rate soared to 67.4% from 36.6%, over the same period.
Other provinces also posted high positivity rates such as Bataan, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Cavite, La Union, Laguna, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Pampanga, Quezon, Rizal, and Zambales.