President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has ordered the retention of the present Covid-19 alert level system in the country for the time being.

He said he wants to reclassify restrictions that are compatible with the current milder strains that afflict the patients. The alert level could be “adjusted or improved” if people get their booster shots, the President said.

During a meeting with Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday, July 18, the DOH committed to come up with a new alert level classification by mid-August.

“To avoid confusion, we will retain the alert level system for now. We are, however, thinking, we are studying very closely, and we’ll come to a decision very soon as to decoupling the restrictions from the alert levels,” Marcos said.

Vergeire said that mid-August is a suitable period to loosen up to allay fears of the medical community and give them time to make Covid-19 cases more manageable.

She added that the country is currently experiencing an uptick in Covid-19 cases because of the highly contagious Omicron BA.5 variant.

Based on current projections, more relaxed compliance to minimum public health standards (MPHS) would result in a higher number of Covid-19 cases, Vergeire said. She, however, said that it is preventable.

With the emergence of new Covid-19 variants, the virus’ immune-escaping mechanism also increased. Experts project that if eligible individuals do not take the jabs, the country will witness increased hospitalizations by September, according to Vergeire.

“So that’s why we really wanted to capture all of this eligible population bago dumating yung time na projection na sinasabing September (before the projection time in September comes),” she said.

The interagency task force, under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte, placed many areas in the country under Alert Level 1, including Metro Manila, from July 1 to 15.

Malacañang did not release a new alert level until the older one lapsed but later ordered the extension of the alert level.

Source: Manila Bulletin (