Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año rejected on Monday, Feb. 7, proposals to suspend the alert level system with the country’s steady health situation improvement in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In an interview over DzBB, Año insisted that any changes in the country’s enforcement of health protocols during the pandemic should be based on science and evidence and not merely on speculations or projections.
“Kaya naman nakita natin nagadjust din tayo pati sa quarantine period or quarantine protocols pero hindi pa rin pupwedeng alisin yung Alert Level System kasi we still do not know kung merong bagong variant na darating at kung meron pang mas matinding COVID variant (That is why we can see that we also made adjustments on the quarantine period or quarantine protocols but the Alert Level System cannot be removed since we still do not know if there will be another variant coming and if there is still a more dreadful COVID variant),’’ Año explained.
He also defended the Alert Level System citing its excellent metrics where the economy is still open even if strict health restrictions are enforced without hard lockdowns and only granular lockdowns are imposed.
“Wala na tayong lockdown. Ano na lang tayo, granular lockdown na lang kaya nakakapagtrabaho pa rin yung mga kababayan natin. So para sa akin ano, pinagaaralan natin kung ano yung mga pwedeng baguhin within the Alert Level System pero hindi pupwedeng tanggalin yung Alert Level System (Now we do not have lockdown. What we have is granular lockdown only that is why our countrymen can still go to work. So for me, we analyze what possible changes can be done within the Alert Level System but we cannot remove the Alert Level System),’’ he added.
On the vaccination rollout for the 5 to 11 years old age category, Año stated that it started on Feb. 7 in Metro Manila which will be done continuously and be adopted nationwide later on.
“Dito muna (vaccination of minors) tayo sa National Capital Region (NCR) at ang ating target dito ay makapag, meron lang kasing mga 1.7 million 5-11 years old (kids) sa Metro Manila at ang of course ang target natin sana ay mapabakunahan lahat ito. Pero ayun naman sa DOH (Department of Health) 2022-0041 memo (memorandum) importante kailangan merong parents consent ang, bago bakunahan ang bata (We will start first in the National Capital Region and our target is to have everyone vaccinated. But based on the DOH memo 2022-0041 it is important to have the parent’s consent before the child is inoculated),’’ Año lamented.
But when asked that only 700,00 doses of Pfizer vaccines were delivered, Año said more vaccine will arrive in the country in the coming weeks.
The DILG chief also stressed that the public has a shared participation in the country’s fight against COVID-19 citing that “personal responsibility’’ should be practiced primarily in observing the minimum public health standard in any Alert Level. (Chito A. Chavez)