DESPITE the recommendation of the Department of Health, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has opted not to extend the state of calamity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The State of Calamity due to the Covid-19 pandemic ended on December 31, 2022.

Prior to this, Marcos issued executive orders allowing the voluntary wearing of facemasks in both indoor and outdoor settings following the high vaccination conversation for the first and second doses of vaccines against Covid-19 and the low number of Covid-19 cases. However, the updated face mask policy still requires face masks in some settings like in hospitals or on public transportation.

Then, on January 13, 2023, the Department of Health (DOH) projects that hospital admissions, including the intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy, due to Covid-19 will be plateauing soon.

"With no new variant of concern this December 2022, hospital and ICU occupancy are expected to plateau at around 2,000 and 250 admissions, respectively," said DOH-Epidemiology Bureau Director Dr. Alethea de Guzman.

Meanwhile, in Davao City, Covid-19 Task Force spokesperson Dr. Michelle Schlosser said the city has not experienced any surge of new cases since the holiday season.

During the 2022 holiday season, most of the Covid-19 restrictions have already been lifted. Many gathered to celebrate the holidays and for the most part, many were not wearing masks. It was a recipe for disaster in the context of the pandemic. We anticipated the worse by January 2023. Thankfully, things turned out for the better.

Schlosser added that most of the new Covid-19 cases were either asymptomatic or mild.

We can pinpoint the improved Covid-19 situation to the vaccination drive. If not for the majority being vaccinated against the disease, hospital admissions would remain high.

The vaccine coverage in Davao Region is at 88.2 percent or 3,347,805 as of January 9, 2023 wherein all provinces have reached more than 50 percent coverage. The total target population is 3,796,830.

Davao City has the highest vaccine coverage in Davao Region at 101.3 percent after exceeding its target population of 1,327,323. Fully vaccinated persons in the city are at 1,345,149.

Davao Oriental recorded 89.7 percent coverage wherein 378,096 are fully vaccinated, followed by 85.3 percent in Davao del Norte with 637,793, 77.8 percent in Davao de Oro with 424,708, 76.9 percent in Davao Occidental with 184,601, and 73.4 percent in Davao del Sur with 377,458 vaccinated.

Moving forward, DOH has announced that the Covid-19 vaccination will be among its vaccine programs. Likewise, the city government of Davao has continued to operate some of its vaccination sites.

So are we at the end of the pandemic tunnel? We can say that we are near the exit. However, things are different once we get out. We have to live with the fact that Covid-19 is not going anywhere. We were able to somewhat "tame" the disease with improved medical responses -- better medicines, accessible testing kits and facilities, and vaccines.