Duque says Alert Level 2 suitable until end of the year

Published December 8, 2021, 2:02 PM

by Dhel Nazario

For Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, it is appropriate for the meantime to place the country under Alert Level 2 until the end of the year.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (RTVM Screenshot / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview on DZBB on Wednesday, Dec. 8, Duque said that the increased mobility that is currently being experienced is almost just like with Alert Level 1. He urged law enforcement agencies need to be watchful and observe if minimum public health standards (MPHS) are being followed.

Despite the continuous dip in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, Duque maintained that the public should not be complacent and reiterated the continued use of masks. He said that the surge of COVID-19 cases being experienced in Western Europe should serve as a lesson in easing restrictions.

Meanwhile, with regard to the expected surge after the holiday season, Duque said that COVID-19 cases might not be too high.

“Basta’t huwag lang tayo magluwag ng pansariling proteksyon…baka naman maliit lang ‘yan, baka di na rin yan aabot tulad ng Delta (As long as we will not be lax in protective ourselves…it [cases] may be small and may not reach levels like with Delta),” he said.

“Kasi tayo nagsurge tayo ng September, umabot tayo pinakamataas natin seven-day moving average daily cases, mga 21,000 to 22,000 yun na pinakatodo natin (Because we had a surge in September, our highest number, seven-day moving average daily cases was about 21,000 to 22,000, that’s the maximum number),” he added.

Duque stated that since a lot of people have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 and have attained natural immunity from the past three case surges, he is optimistic that the figures will not reach as high as the ones recorded in September.

Given the continued dip in COVID-19 cases, Duque expressed willingness to hand over the mantle of Health Secretary to someone else and retire. He said that he will be turning 65 next year, the mandatory age of retirement for civil servants. But being a political appointee, he said that it is up to the President to decide.

“Dalawang beses na ako nag-secretary of health. Yung iba gusto din magsecretary, pagbigyan naman natin (I have been secretary of health twice. There are others who want to take over, let’s give them that chance),” he said.

Duque also mentioned that he has finished all of the important matters with DOH such as the budget. While COVID-19 numbers are good, as well as vaccination figures, retirement seems to be a viable option, according to him.