PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, that health workers will continue to receive Covid-19 allowances despite the country not being under state of calamity anymore.

“Tuloy-tuloy ‘yan... ‘Yung inaalala ko dati na hindi matutuloy ang compensation para sa ating health workers, ‘yung mga health workers, ‘yung allowance nila ay pinag-aralan namin nang mabuti kahit hindi itinutuloy ang state of calamity ay hindi maapektuhan ang pagbayad doon sa ating mga health workers ng kanilang mga benefits,” Marcos said after meeting with health officials in Malacañang.

(It will continue... I used to worry that the compensation for our health workers would not continue, but we studied it carefully and even if the state of calamity is not continued, the health workers will continue to get their benefits.)

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said that it recommended to Marcos the extension of the state calamity, which ended on December 31, 2022.

In 2020, the country was placed under a state of calamity to enable the national government and the local government units to continuously deliver Covid-19-related interventions, such as but not limited to Covid-19 vaccination program; utilize appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their disaster preparedness, and response efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19; monitor and control prices of basic necessities and prime commodities; and provide basic services to the affected population.

In December, Marcos said he is not inclined in prolonging the state of calamity, stressing it “is the wrong mindset to be approaching the New Year with.”

During the meeting, health officials also presented to Marcos their programs amid the continuous fight against Covid-19, as well as the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.

Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said they have prepared several alternatives on how to manage the pandemic even without the declaration of state of calamity especially for the continuous provision of benefits to medical health workers which he said is the “main issue without the state of calamity.”

Marcos said in terms of Covid-19 vaccines, the Covax facility, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), shipped to the Philippines almost 1.3 million doses of the vaccine.

He said the number of vaccines is sufficient in the country for now as the number of infections continues to decline.

“Pababa naman nang pababa ang ating cases, pababa nang pababa naman ang ating hospitalization, ‘yun ang binabantayan natin. So titingnan natin,” Marcos said.

(Our cases are going down, our hospitalization is going down, that's what we're watching. So we'll see.)

“Hindi na kailangan kagaya ng 2021 na lagi tayong nagmamadali makakuha ng vaccine dahil pabawas na ‘yung risk, so dapat naman eh mag-adjust din tayo doon sa kung ano ba talaga ang scientific na assessment doon sa sitwasyon ng Covid,” he added.

(It is no longer necessary like in 2021 that we are always in a hurry to get a vaccine because the risk is decreasing, so we should also adjust to what the scientific assessment of the Covid situation really is.)

In a separate interview, Vergeire said the arrival of bivalent Covid-19 vaccines from Covax, which is said to be targeting the highly transmissible Omicron variant, is expected by the end of March.

As of January 31, 2023, the country has a total of 9,632 active Covid-19 cases.

The total caseload since 2020 is at 4,073,203 with 65,779 deaths. (SunStar Philippines)