Metro Manila mayors are set to review the guidelines allowing children to go outdoors and enter malls after a 2-year-old boy was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few days after going to the mall.
“That's very unfortunate. That's why we are still reminding everyone to follow the public health protocols and for parents to [be discerning] in bringing their kids to the mall…and only if it is necessary,” Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said Friday.
“Metro Manila mayors are also reviewing the age restrictions [for entering malls]. While we have low COVID-19 cases, the pandemic is still not over,” Año said.
Minors have been allowed to go out of their homes and move around under Alert Level 2 as the government opens up more establishments to spur the economy.
Metro Manila is under Alert Level 2 from Nov. 5 to 21, which means there are no age restrictions for people leaving their homes.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos Jr., for his part, said for now, they will leave it up to the discretion of the parents whether or not to bring their kids outdoors.
Abalos, however, appealed to parents to leave their infants at home to avoid pediatric infections.
Meanwhile the Department of Health said no COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer has yet applied for emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of their jabs on children ages 5 to 11.
“The FDA said they are expecting a submission from Pfizer since the US FDA has granted it an EUA,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in Filipino during an online media briefing.
Vergeire noted that vaccine manufacturers usually submit EUA applications in different countries once they have secured one from the US FDA.
“We’ll wait for their application, then the evaluation, then, the issuance of an EUA from the FDA,” she said.
To date, only children aged 12 to 17 years old are included in the government’s vaccination program where they are given Pfizer and Moderna jabs.
Pfizer has already applied for an EUA of its vaccine to be used as a booster shot or third dose for the health care workers and persons with comorbidities.
AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Gamaleya Research Institute have also applied for the same EUA.
Vergeire said the FDA and the vaccine experts panel are completing the documents for the evaluation.
“We’re just wanting to wait for the complete SAGE [Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization] recommendation, which is the last piece of evidence we need, so we can give appropriate recommendations,” she added.
Also on Friday, former Health secretary Esperanza Cabral warned that the country may experience a fresh surge of coronavirus infections if Filipinos become complacent about adhering to health protocols.
Cabral said the public must not let their guard down, as the country eases restrictions to further open the economy.
“It's possible we could have another surge of COVID. [We hope] this will not happen. Now, everyone's excited to visit [shopping malls],” she told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
Esperanza advised people to wait for the excitement to subside before visiting such places.
She also urged parents to consider what could happen if they bring children to crowded places.
Metro Manila, home to more than 13 million people, shifted to Alert Level 2 on Nov. 5 amid a decline in COVID-19 cases.
If the downtrend in coronavirus infections continues, Metro Manila may further ease to the lowest COVID-19 alert level, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had said.
The Philippines logged 1,894 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 2,813,115.
There were 170 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 45,035.
The Department of Health (DOH) also reported 1,421 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,738,975.
There were 29,105 active cases, of which 63 percent were mild, 5.7 percent were asymptomatic, 4.4 percent were critical, 10.2 percent were severe, and 16.7 percent were moderate.
The positivity rate was at 5.5 percent, based on test results of samples from 43,591 individuals on Nov. 10.
The World Health Organization says a positivity rate of less than 5 percent is acceptable. A positivity rate of 5 percent or higher indicates that virus transmission is high.
Nationwide, 39 percent of ICU beds, 30 percent of isolation beds, 23 percent of ward beds, and 22 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 35 percent of ICU beds, 26 percent of isolation beds, 26 percent of ward beds, and 21 percent of ventilators, were in use.
The independent OCTA Research Group said it expects that new COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) will continue to decrease even as the reproduction number slightly increased to 0.44.
According to the latest OCTA report, the seven-day average in the region slightly increased over the past two days to 423 from the previous 364 recorded on November 3 to 9.
Also on Friday, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it will bar travelers coming from Faroe Islands and the Netherlands, which were placed under the red list status from Nov. 16 until Nov. 30.
The BI reiterated that foreign tourists are still not allowed in the country and only Filipinos and foreigners married to locals, or with existing visas coming from countries under green or yellow status will be allowed to enter the Philippines.
“Those in the red list, or have been there in the last 14 days prior to arrival, are barred from entering the Philippines,” the BI said.
Filipinos coming from the two countries may be allowed entry as assisted by government or non-government-initiated repatriation flights.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) includes the following in its Green List: American Samoa, Bhutan, Chad, China (Mainland), Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Federated States of Micronesia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Montserrat, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Northern Mariana Islands, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Paraguay, Rwanda, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sint Eustatius, South Africa, Sudan, Taiwan, Togo, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
All other countries, territories, and jurisdictions not included in the Green and Red lists are under the Yellow List.