Philippines may shift to MGCQ by second quarter as more vaccines coming in - Nograles
By Celerina Monte
The second quarter of 2021 may be the right time for President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire country under modified general community quarantine, the least restrictive quarantine classification, as more Filipinos can be inoculated with the expected arrival of more COVID-19 vaccines, an official said on Thursday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, in the "Virtual Presser," said with more vaccines to come in, the Department of Education may also push through with the pilot face-to-face classes in areas with low cases of coronavirus.
"The first thing is that he's (Duterte) very happy with the (vaccination) rollout, with what's happening in the rollout. He wants to see more happening as a challenge to all of us that he wants expanded rollout," he said of the President's reaction during the Cabinet meeting on Monday night regarding the vaccination program, which started last Monday with the arrival of Chinese donated 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine.
With the expected arrival of AstraZeneca vaccine under World Health Organization-COVAX facility on Thursday night, the official said this gives even more confidence on the part of the President to possibly further ease the restrictions.
Nograles also noted the statement of Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. that one million doses of Sinovac vaccine are also set to arrive this month in the country.
"So, the President's confidence even gets higher. So, I foresee this to be something that will be in the works in the second quarter...may be this is the right time that the entire Philippines shift to MGCQ," Nograles said.
Duterte earlier rejected a proposal by the National Economic and Development Authority to place the whole country under MGCQ this March to further open up the economy amid the rising cases of hunger among the Filipinos.
Duterte said he would only declare MGCQ in the entire country until the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
"So, again the President reiterated his stand that he wants to see a more rigorous, a more widespread rollout of the vaccination program. He said that, unless he sees about - he gave a figure like 2 million vaccines being rolled out as a start - then that's when he will start considering about more openly of the GCQ areas to consider again putting it under MGCQ," Nograles said.
In the same Cabinet meeting, Nograles said a proposal for face-to-face classes was also discussed.
"On the limited face-to-face classes, what was agreed last night is that, the limited face-to-face classes are only pilot, will only by pilot classes to be selected very carefully by the Department of Education in those areas with low transmission rate of COVID," he said.
He noted that even some private schools have reached out to DepEd and asked if they could join in the limited face-to-face classes.
"But again, the President still wants to see a more massive vaccination rollout for him to gain enough of that confidence, to increase his confidence for the DepEd to open to limited face-to-face classes," he said.
The DepEd is holding classes in the country through blended learning, such as online, modular, or through the help of radio and television.
Only a few medical and allied colleges and universities are allowed to hold physical classes in the country. DMS