Malacañang is optimistic that a vaccine for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will become available in the Philippines by the first quarter of 2021, and that it will be a “year of healing.”
In his New Year’s Day message released on Thursday, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has identified geographical and sectoral priorities for vaccination.
“Negotiations and discussions with vaccine manufacturers are ongoing and tripartite agreements with the government, the private sector, and allied governments are now rolling,” he said.
Citing the Philippine National Vaccine Roadmap, he said the earliest rollout of a vaccine is expected in the first quarter of next year.
“We are indeed on track and this gives us a sense of optimism. We hope to see an end to the pandemic and continue the pursuit for a stronger and healthier Philippines,” he said.
1,541 new cases logged
AS the year drew to a close, the Philippines logged 1,541 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 474,064, even as three laboratories failed to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The DOH said the decrease in cases over the holiday season was to be expected given the closure of many private laboratories and the decrease in patients seen by those who remained open.
The DOH reported 296 persons recovered recently, bringing the total recoveries to 439,796, which is 92.8 percent of the total cases.
The DOH also reported 14 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 9,244, which is 1.95 percent of the total cases.
That left 25,024 active cases, which is 5.3 percent of the total number of cases. Of the active cases, 80.8 percent are mild cases; 10.4 percent are asymptomatic; 5.5 percent are critical; 2.9 percent are severe; and 0.46 percent are moderate.
Referral system boosts recovery
A proper referral process through the government’s “One Hospital Command” system has contributed to the increase of the recovery rate among coronavirus patients, Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo Vega said on Wednesday.
During a Laging Handa press briefing, Vega said the government’s referral system has also reduced the mortality rate of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Vega said the “One Hospital Command” referral system has saved COVID-19 patients, particularly those with severe and critical cases.
“If we could put the patients in a proper facility, then really they will have proper management and it will reduce the mortality rate,” he added.
US suffers biggest daily death toll
The US logged its highest ever daily death toll from the coronavirus Wednesday as the world prepares to turn the page on a grim year defined by the pandemic, with much of the globe united in one hope for 2021: that a slew of new vaccines will stamp out COVID-19.
New Year’s Eve marks one year since the World Health Organization first mentioned a mysterious pneumonia in China later identified as COVID-19, which went on in 2020 to kill more than 1.79 million people and devastate the global economy in unprecedented ways.
In the world’s worst-hit country, the US, the numbers keep climbing: On Wednesday more than 3,900 people died of Covid-19, a new record, bringing the toll since the pandemic began to more than 19.7 million infections and 341,000 lives lost.
And experts believe the worst is yet to come, as US health care workers brace for a surge in cases after major holiday gatherings.
Laoag mayor told to explain party
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has issued a show cause order against Mayor Michael M. Keon of Laoag City after photos flooded social media of a Christmas gathering organized by the local chief executive.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said Secretary Eduardo M. Año has directed the issuance of a SCO against Keon for alleged violation of the prohibition against mass gathering and for violation of minimum health standards during a pandemic.
“We received reports that a Christmas party was organized by the mayor together with other government and barangay officials. Acting on these reports, the secretary has directed the issuance of the SCO for the mayor to explain if he should be administratively liable for violating health protocols,” he said in a news release on Thursday.
Malaya said while the protocols are admittedly difficult, government officials must lead by example and therefore should be circumspect about calling for gatherings at this time.
“If the public sees that our government officials themselves are not following the protocols, our campaign loses credibility,” he said.