DOH not keen on recommending lifting of COVID-19 public health emergency
The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said it was still not keen on recommending the lifting of the COVID-19 state of public health emergency.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the state of public health emergency could be lifted if the country’s COVID-19 cases were manageable and hospitals were ready.
“Sinasabi natin before we can be able to lift this public health emergency kailangan aside from our cases our manageable, our hospitals are ready, kailangan yung policy environment [so] they can be able to prepare,” Vergeire said in an ambush interview.
(We said that before we can lift this public health emergency, apart from having a manageable number of cases and our hospitals are ready, we need a policy environment so they can prepare.)
“Kasi doon sa mga policies natin for public health emergency may mga nakaakibat na polisiya na kapag nilift natin hindi naman magagawa yung response katulad nung authority ng director general to issue out emergency use authority for our newer technologies para dito sa COVID-19 hindi natin yun magagawa pagnilift so lahat yan kailangan pinaghahandaan natin,” she said.
(Because in our policies for public health emergencies, there are attached policies that when we lift it, we won't be able to respond, like the authority of the director general to issue emergency use authority for our newer technologies for COVID-19. We cannot do that if we lift it, so we need to prepare for it.)
“So ngayon ginagawa na natin yung transitioning so that eventually kapag nakita natin manageable yung kaso naayos na natin yung mga policies na kailangan natin we can recommend to the President, but not yet,” she added.
(So what we are doing now is transitioning so that, eventually, when we see that the cases are manageable, we have fixed the policies we need, we can recommend lifting the state of emergency to the President. But not yet.)
Vergeire earlier said that the country may only declare an end to the state of public health emergency due to COVID-19 if infections and hospital utilization remained manageable.
The United States on April 11 officially ended its COVID-19 national health emergency after more than three years.
Then-President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of public health emergency in the Philippines in March 2020, the onset of the pandemic.
Under Proclamation 922, the state of public health emergency would remain in force and effect until lifted or withdrawn by the President.
The DOH OIC also said they were not recommending to ban water activities in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro amid the recent oil spill from a sunken motor tanker.
“Right now ang affected pa lang at ang tinitest natin yung may mga nasa shorelines naapektuhan ng oil spill. Puerto Galera is not included among those pero nagkaroon sila ng random sampling ng test across different areas where Puerto Galera is being included,” Vergeire said.
“Pero hindi pa conclusive nga kaya hindi pa natin masasabi. Pero ang masasabi ko lang basta lumabas yung test at napakita talaga that there is this contamination ng mga chemical na nakikita natin which is harmful for the body kahit siguro pangalawang test pa lang hindi namin papayagan ang public to use the water or to consume the water,” she added.
Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco had said that Puerto Galera continued to be unaffected by the recent oil spill, adding that it remained open to tourists worldwide.
MT Princess Empress was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank due to strong waves in Oriental Mindoro on February 28.
According to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the motor tanker sank 400 meters into the ocean, which was too deep for divers to reach.
The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) earlier said the oil slick from the sunken motor tanker may reach Puerto Galera and Batangas.
Frasco said the oil spill affected 66 tourist attractions and 1,400 tourism workers.
Meanwhile, Vergeire advised those who swam in the contaminated water to wash with soap, monitor for skin rashes, and consult their doctors.
“If you were able to ingest some of the water sasakit yung tyan mo magsusuka may loose bowel movement and kung inhalation ang nangyari doon ka lang sa shore tapos parang nalanghap mo yung ganyang contaminants tapos sasakit sa ulo o kaya parang nahihilo ka,” she said.
(If you ingested some of the water, your stomach will hurt, you will vomit, there will be loose bowel movement, and if inhalation happened, you were just there on the shore, then you inhaled the contaminants, then you will have a headache or you will feel dizzy.)
“So pagganyan may mga sintomas (If those were the symptoms) and you knew you took a bath in the contaminated water, go to your doctor and they will know what to do,” she added.
Vergeire earlier said the number of people who have become sick due to the effects of the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro had increased to 191, based on data from March 2 to 20.
She said only one patient was reported to have been hospitalized due to an aggravated asthma attack during the first week of the oil spill in the province. — DVM, GMA Integrated News