The government has approved the adjustment of age restriction on persons allowed to leave their homes amid the general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila from the current 21 to 60 years old to 18 to 65 years old, a Malacanang official said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Cabinet has approved gradually expanding the age group to go out to report for work and to buy essential needs.
Roque also said the Cabinet has also approved shortening the curfew hours and to allow multiple work shifts to enable more workers to return to their jobs.
The current curfew hours in Metro Manila are from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. but Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said it was possible to push the curfew in Metro Manila to midnight up to 5 a.m.
Seniors urged to stay home, anyway
The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said the government is already looking into proposals to ease COVID-19 quarantine restrictions for senior citizens and minors, but still thinks such vulnerable members of the population should stay indoors unless they need to buy essential items.
“We are still recommending that senior citizens should stay at home if they do not need to do anything important outside,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
“Because they are really the ones at risk here. They’re the ones who may get severely ill,” Vergeire said.
Distancing restrictions on public transport eased
President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet has approved a measure to gradually reduce physical distancing in public transportation, allowing a seat apart rule between commuters, in a move to optimize vehicle capacity for employees returning to work, Malacanang said Tuesday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the move has given the go-signal to cut down the one meter safe distance between commuters, and allow them to sit beside each other provided that there are plastic barriers separating them.
If plastic barriers are not available, the use of UV light for disinfection is also allowed, he said.
He said the Cabinet is strongly advising commuters to wear proper face masks and face shields and not talk or eat during the ride.
The Cabinet also allowed increased train capacity to 50 percent, from the current 30 percent.
1,990 new cases logged
The Philippines logged on Tuesday 1,990 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases bringing the total to 344,713, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The DOH reported 327 new recoveries, bringing to 293,383 the total number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
The DOH also reported 40 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 6,372.
There are 44,958 actives cases. Of the number, 84.2 percent are mild; 10.6 percent are asymptomatic; 1.7 percent are severe; and 3.4 percent are critical.
Palace pins hopes on vaccines
Malacanang expressed the hope that the pandemic would end at the soonest time as three vaccine developers, including Sputnik V’s, have submitted an application for the possible conduct of Phase 3 clinical trials of their vaccines in the country.
“Good news, it seems that the pandemic is about to end. According to the DOST, there are three vaccine developers that submitted requirements to the FDA indicating their interest to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
First to submit among the three developers was the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, which developed the Russian vaccine Sputnik V.
Second was the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and third was the Sinovac Biotech from China.
Johnson & Johnson, however, has announced a pause in its clinical trials in the United States after a participant grew ill. – Vito Barcelo
Bigger budget for vaccines sought
A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday urged the House of Representatives to increase funds allocated for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines next year.
Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said the P2.5 billion included in the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 for Covid-19 vaccines “will not be enough for a significant number of poor Filipinos, health care personnel and other front-line workers who should be our priority in protecting our people against this infectious virus and disease.”
“Even Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and the Department of Health (DOH) have admitted that the funding is good for just a small fraction of our population,” he said.