The Department of Health (DOH) will convene members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to discuss the country's next steps on how to address COVID-19, following the World Health Organization (WHO)'s declaration that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency.
The DOH also said it welcomes the WHO proclamation concerning COVID-19.
'This is an acknowledgement of our effective and collaborative COVID-19 response and concerted efforts to fully recover and re-open our economy,' the DOH said in a statement.
The DOH said a meeting with members of the IATF will be held to discuss and reassess the country's policies and guidelines on COVID-19 that were affected by the declaration.
The health department assured Filipinos that 'all factors in determining the country's next action in line with the WHO's proclamation will be considered and discussed for the approval of the President.'
An infectious diseases specialist has expressed support for the WHO declaration.
'I totally agree with WHO in the lifting of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern on COVID-19,' said Dr. Rontgene Solante in a text message.
He cited as basis for such declaration the continued overall decrease in cases, hospitalization and mortality or deaths related to COVID.
At the same time, Solante noted 'the high coverage of COVID-19 vaccination in most countries as well as the availability of treatment for COVID that was proven to result in a decrease (in cases).'
However, Solante, who is also vice president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said, 'But the lifting of the public health emergency doesn't mean it's the end of COVID-19 already.'
'There are still cases, there are still deaths related to COVID and its complications. Countries are advised to continue to make policies to protect the people, prevent surge and prevent deaths,' he added.
The WHO ended the global emergency status for COVID-19 on Friday more than three years after its original declaration.
The WHO announcement does not mean that the fight against the viral illness is already over, according to a member of the OCTA Research group.
'It does not mean that COVID is over. The virus is still there. We still need to be careful, especially the seniors and those with comorbidities,' OCTA fellow Guido David said in a mix of English and Filipino during an interview with radio dzBB yesterday.
'The WHO made it clear that it was the global state of emergency that ended. COVID is still here, and it is up to the individual countries to manage the disease,' David added.
He said that WHO's declaration on Friday is expected, noting that many countries - including the Philippines - already ended their respective states of emergency.
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