Gov’t assures continued health workers’ allowance after end of state of calamity 


By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter 

THE GOVERNMENT on Wednesday assured that the payout of COVID-19 allowance to health workers will not be affected by the expiration of a 2020 state of calamity that was declared due to the health crisis. 

“That will continue,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said after meeting with health officials on Wednesday, based on a press release from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).  

Mr. Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo R. Duterte, issued a state of calamity declaration in March 2020. It was extended several times under Mr. Duterte, and Mr. Marcos kept it in effect until end-2022.   

The declaration allowed the allocation of special allowances to health workers involved in the coronavirus response, distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, augment pandemic response funds, and control prices of basic goods.  

At the Wednesday meeting with Health officials, Mr. Marcos said there is no need now for the government to hurry in securing vaccines since the country’s COVID-19 situation has become manageable.   

“The COVAX facility, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), shipped to the Philippines almost 1.3 million doses of the vaccine,” the Palace said. 

“Such a number of doses is sufficient for the country for now,” Mr. Marcos said as he pointed to the declining number of infections in the Philippines based on recent records.  

The Philippines posted 1,206 coronavirus infections in the past week, with a daily average of 172, which is 36% lower than a week earlier.  Of the new cases, only one was severe and critical. There were 74 new deaths reported, six of which occurred on Jan. 16 to 29.  

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization made a decision to keep its highest alert for the pandemic, saying health systems are “struggling with COVID-19 and caring for patients with influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, health workforce shortages, and fatigued health workers.”  

It said vaccines, therapeutics, and various medical tools have been critical but “too many countries” are “unable to provide these tools to the populations most in need, older people and health workers.” 

But the WHO said COVID-19 pandemic “may be approaching an inflection point,” noting that the disease may longer be as dangerous today as it was in 2020, the year it began to spread quickly around the world.