There is one common thread that runs through most of the news reports we read in our newspapers these days – the COVID-19 pandemic. This weekend, we read that:
- President Duterte had signed the COVID vaccine law, providing a P500-million indemnity fund as compensation for those who may suffer any ill effects of vaccination.
- The National Capital Region and nine other areas of the country remain under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) for yet another month, before they can move on to Modified GCQ.
- The very first batch of vaccines arrived Sunday – 600,000 doses of China’s Sinovac. Another vaccine – the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca – was coming Monday..
- The pandemic is a signal for all of us to go nearer to God, Ozamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad said over Radio Veritas on the second Sunday of Lent, the 40-day period leading to Holy Week. He called on everyone to help those in need, who were badly affected by the pandemic.
- The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the government’s pandemic task force, approved the elimination of swab tests and quarantine for travel within the country.
- There will be no pilot-testing of face-face-classes soon, as proposed by some quarters in a Senate hearing.
- The OCTA Research Group reported a surge of cases of 900 a day in Metro Manila in the past week, the first time since October.
The Philippines and the rest of the world hopes the pandemic will soon die down as mass vaccinations begin. We hope we will soon have more reports of other news developments, even if these are negative developments, such as increases in the cost of gasoline and other fuel.
Prices are slowly rising. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas expects local market prices to rise as a result of higher world oil prices. This is what happened in 2018 when the inflation rate in the Philippines started rising in January, reached 4.5 percent in June, and topped to 6.7 percent in September. This year, BSP said, the inflation rate reached 4.2 percent last January, and should be between 4.3 percent and 5.1 percent at the end of February.
Our news these days is mostly about the pandemic. We hope it will soon die down with the start of mass vaccinations. We also hope the COVID stories which have dominated our news pages this last year it will not just be replaced by reports of rising market prices, as in 2018.