PBBM lifts Covid-19 state of public health emergency

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

July 22, 2023, 2:35 pm

<p><em>(PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)</em></p>

(PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has formally lifted the state of public health emergency declared due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang announced on Saturday.

Marcos on Friday issued Proclamation 297, lifting the nationwide declaration of a public health emergency due to Covid-19, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

“All prior orders, memoranda, and issuances that are effective only during the State of Public Health Emergency shall be deemed withdrawn, revoked or canceled and shall no longer be in effect,” according to the proclamation.

Under Proclamation 297, all government agencies are enjoined to ensure that their policies, rules, and regulations will take into consideration the lifting of the state of public health emergency.

Government agencies are also instructed to amend existing or promulgate new issuances, as may be appropriate.

Garafil said all emergency use authorization (EUA) issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Executive Order (EO) 121 issued in 2020 would remain valid for one year from the date of issuance of Proclamation 297 “for the sole purposes of exhausting the remaining vaccines.”

EO 131 authorizes the FDA to issue EUAs for Covid-19 vaccines, which shall be valid only within the duration of the declared public health emergency.

“The proclamation also states that although Covid-19 remains to be a serious concern for certain subpopulation and requires continued public health response, the country has maintained sufficient health care system capacity and low hospital bed utilization rates even after the liberalization of Covid-19 health protocols,” Garafil said.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation 922 on March 8, 2020, declaring a state of public health emergency after the first Covid-19 transmission reported by the Department of Health (DOH).

On May 4 this year, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) noted the decreasing trend in Covid-related deaths, the decline in hospitalizations and intensive care unit admission, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2).

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on May 5 concurred with the committee’s advice and determined that Covid-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

Ghebreyesus advised the transition to long-term management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In May, Marcos said the country is already “on normal footing" after the WHO lifted the global state of public health emergency.

The DOH continues to administer free vaccines against Covid-19 and has recently started giving out bivalent doses, effective for the original strain and the Delta variant, for health workers and senior citizens. (PNA)