Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s lifting of Covid-19 public health emergency ‘soon’ – DOH

2023 July 4

WAITING FOR THE FORMAL LIFTING. Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa joins the Palace press briefing on Tuesday (July 4, 2023). Herbosa told reporters that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will soon issue an order to formally lift the state of public health emergency declared due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will “soon” sign an order to formally lift the state of public health emergency declared due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said Tuesday.

“Wala pang (There is still no) formal [order]). We’re still waiting,” Herbosa told Palace reporters when quizzed if Marcos is set to issue a formal order lifting the public health emergency.

Herbosa said he is awaiting Marcos’ approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) resolution issued before he was appointed health chief in June.

“I am just waiting for that IATF resolution… That’s not yet signed. I will follow it up with reiteration,” he added.

Herbosa noted the signing of the IATF-EID resolution has been delayed because the Office of the President had to look into the possible consequences of the lifting of the public health emergency status, including its possible impact on the use of Covid-19 bivalent vaccines.

“The obstacle is gone,” he said, adding that Marcos’ “first instruction” to him when he take on the Department of Health (DOH) portfolio was to “get out of the Covid pandemic.”

Herbosa stressed that while Marcos is yet to make an official pronouncement, the Chief Executive already considers the Philippines to be “de facto” (in practice) not under the state of a public health emergency.

After the World Health Organization (WHO) ended the public health emergency of international concern due to Covid-19, medical professionals now consider Covid-19 “as just one of the respiratory illnesses,” Herbosa said.

“During our sectoral meeting (earlier today), we now consider Covid among our healthcare workers as similar to other illnesses like coughs, cold, influenza,” he said.

Herbosa clarified that the Filipino people, especially those who belong to the vulnerable sector, still have to protect themselves from the disease.

“What happens now is that the risk is passed on to individuals,” he said. “There is still risk of death for vulnerable people which is the elderly and those with the medical conditions, the immunocompromised.”

Marcos’ predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, declared a state of public health emergency on March 8, 2020 when the first Covid-19 transmission was reported by the DOH.

Last May, Marcos said the country is already “on normal footing” after the WHO lifted the global state of public health emergency.

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)