THE PUBLIC health emergency brought about by the COVID-19 is officially over all throughout the country.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. issued Proclamation No. 297 on Friday, July 21, lifting the State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines due to COVID-19.
“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orders, memoranda, and issuances that are effective only during the State of Public Health Emergency shall be deemed withdrawn, revoked or canceled and shall no longer be in effect,” the proclamation reads.
“All EUA (emergency use authorization) issued by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 121 (s. 2020) shall remain valid for a period of one year from the date of lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency for the sole purposes of exhausting the remaining vaccines.”
The order also enjoined all agencies to ensure that their policies, rules and regulations shall take into consideration the lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency and to amend existing or promulgate new issuances, as may be appropriate.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 922 in March 2020, declaring a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Succeeding EO No. 121 (s. 2020) authorized 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 healthcare system capacity and low hospital bed utilization rates even after the liberalization of COVID-19 health protocols.
Last May, the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the decreasing trend in COVID-19 deaths, decline in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admission, and the high levels of population immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
The committee determined that COVID-19 is now an established and ongoing health issue, which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and advised the transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail July 17-23, 2023 issue)