President Rodrigo Duterte is optimistic that the country will beat COVID-19 before the year ends as the government starts inoculating economic frontliners or those under the A4 priority group.
“We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as more vaccines arrive in the country,” he said.
But in his regular weekly televised address, the President warned those violating health protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic that the government had the power to punish them, noting the rise in infections in his home city of Davao and other cities across Mindanao and Visayas (see related story below — Editor).
“For as long as people do not honor the protocols prescribed by government, kung ayaw nilang sumunod ayaw nilang maniwala walang katapusan ang COVID (if they don’t follow, they don’t believe, COVID will have no end),” he said.
Duterte also ordered local government officials to find out why people were not getting their second doses of the vaccine.
He appealed to the public to “find time” and “go back” for their second COVID-19 vaccine dose, as the Department of Health last week said about 113,000 people have yet to get their second jabs.
In a taped message aired Monday during the symbolic vaccination of workers under the A4 category, the President urged the public to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families from the deadly virus.
Protection from 2-shot vaccines “is not complete” without the second dose.
“With the start of our mass vaccination… workers in both the public and private sector will have an added layer of protection against the disease,” he said.
He again reminded those who have already been vaccinated to continue following the government’s health protocols.
“We must also remember that getting vaccinated is not the only solution. We must continue to observe minimum public health standards by wearing a mask, washing our hands, and observing social distance,” he said.
“Let us keep in mind that vaccination is the only way forward for us to overcome this pandemic,” Duterte added.
The Philippines logged 6,539 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 1,276,004, as seven laboratories were not able to submit their data on time, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The DOH reported 71 new fatalities, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 21,969.
The DOH also reported 6,969 persons who recently recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 1,195,181.
Active cases were reported at 58,854. Of the figure, 93.4 percent were mild, 2.4 percent were asymptomatic, 1.3 percent were critical, 1.7 percent were severe, and 1.16 percent were moderate.
The DOH also reported that, nationwide, 56 percent of the ICU beds, 48 percent of the isolation beds, 49 percent of the ward beds, and 36 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 49 percent of the ICU beds, 39 percent of the isolation beds, 37 percent of the ward beds, and 33 percent of the ventilators, were in use.
The government launched its vaccination program for the A4 priority group at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City Monday.
Local chief executives from Metro Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao joined the commitment ceremony to heed the call of President Duterte to provide a quick and efficient mass rollout of the vaccination program to the A4 workers, a statement from the Department of Health (DOH) said.
Around 50 people from various sectors including education, tourism, transportation, mass media, service and the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry received their first dose of the vaccine.
Among those under the A4 category who got their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on Monday included a fast food worker, a truck driver, celebrity couple Iya Villania and Drew Arellano, and a journalist.
Villania received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine from Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Duque also administered the vaccine to some of the workers.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said that at least 10 million doses of Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Sputnik V vaccines are due to arrive in the country within the month.
The Philippines has about 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Duque said it is important that the A4 priority group, the economic frontliners, are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Palace, meanwhile, encouraged the public to complete their two-dose coronavirus vaccination after reports that thousands have missed their second inoculation.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it is important for people who got the first jab not to skip the second dose of the vaccine to
strengthen their immunity and protection against COVID-19.
“To those who have yet to receive their second shot, do not worry. Youmay still receive the second shot,” Roque said.
According to health experts, each of the two-dose vaccines showed that, after a certain time, the rate of immunity to COVID-19 plateaued with just one dose but that the second dose helped boost the immunity to higher rates.
Of the 5.9 million doses administered by the government, at least 1.5 million people, mostly health workers and seniors, have been fully vaccinated in various vaccination sites as of June 6.
The government said that the COVID-19 vaccination of A4 individuals will be prioritized in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Pampanga, Batangas, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.
The Inter-Agency Task Force has simplified the A4 category to include all government and private sector workers, informal sector workers, and those who work in private households who need to physically report to work.
The IATF said the A4 group was formerly focused on economic frontliners and personnel who have high levels of interaction with the public and are needed to ensure security and consumer and worker safety.
They said the expanded A4 category also prompted the government to prioritize vaccination of those aged 40 to 59 years old.
With this, the government divided the vaccination rollout of the A4 category into two phases:
Phase 1: A4 workers in NCR+8 (Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal,
Laguna, Pampanga, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao)
A4.1 – private sector workers who work outside their homes
A4.2 – employees in government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations and local government units
A4.3 – informal sector workers and self-employed who work outside their homes and those working in private households
Phase 2: A4 workers outside NCR+8.
Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, special adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said the vaccination of 28 million Filipinos under the A4 category will be completed by November this year.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. earlier said 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be delivered to the Philippines within June.
Local government units on Monday started vaccinating workers listed in the A4 category.
The A4 priority group include those working in commuter transport, front liners in supermarkets and delivery services, workers in manufacturing for foods and medical products, hotel employees, government employees, religious leaders, security personnel and media professionals.
“The vaccination of those from the A4 sector is significant because they make up the backbone of the economy,” said Mayor Imelda Rubiano who led the A4 group’s ceremonial inoculation held at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
Roque seconded Rubiano, saying “this is a game changer in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We want our workers to be safe while they return to work.”
Aside from Roque, other government officials who attended the event were Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr.
Abalos, who represented the mayors in the NCR Plus, led the pledge of commitment by the local chief executives during the A4 ceremonial vaccination rollout.