President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday night said he was considering downgrading Metro Manila’s quarantine status to a least stringent modified general community quarantine to stem any further economic decline.
“I am considering it… Our economy is really down, as in down so the earlier na mabilisan itong vaccine, the better,” Duterte said in a press conference.
Duterte said he was considering opening the economy if the country gets enough vaccine doses.
“If the vaccine is available to anybody for one reason or another sa mga probinsya na-distrbute na ‘yan… Estimate nila about 40 million. Kung maka-hit tayo ng 40 million, ‘pag nandiyan na ang vaccine, maski may mga 20 tayo o 30 [million], buksan ko na dahil sa eocnomy,” the President said.
“People have to eat. People have to work. People have to pay… And the only way to do it is to open the economy and for business to regrow… Without that, patay talaga. Mahihirapan tayo.”
On Saturday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the National Capital Region and nine other areas would be placed under a general community quarantine this March, while the rest of the country would be under an MGCQ.
The National Economic Development Authority earlier proposed placing the entire Philippines under an MGCQ starting March 1 to balance the country's response to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the need of Filipinos to start earning and spending.
However, Duterte said “no vaccine rollout, no MGCQ muna,” according to Senator Christopher “Bong” Go.
Earlier in the day, China’s donation of 600,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from Sinovac arrived on Philippine soil, making the Philippines the last country in Southeast Asia to reach the pandemic milestone of receiving a legitimate vaccine shipment.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the arrival of the vaccines marked the start of the country’s inoculation program.
The country’s first shots will be administered in several COVID-19 referral hospitals across NCR on Monday.
So far, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac.
The Department of Health on Sunday reported 2,113 new COVID-19 cases, marking the fourth straight day of over 2,000 new infections. — DVM, GMA News