Booster program eyed before plan to ease protocols

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. at the weekend said his government would start a campaign to encourage more Filipinos to get booster shots against the coronavirus.

The program is part of preparations for face-to-face classes and full economic reopening, he said in his latest video blog.

“This is the message that we are working on right now,” he said. “This is a preparation for the resumption of face-to-face classes and the plan to relax more safety protocols.”

The Health, the Interior and Local Government, and Education departments would lead the campaign to increase the country’s booster uptake, he said.

Mr. Marcos, 64, recently finished his seven-day isolation on Friday after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This is the second time I got COVID-19 and I think, if it weren’t for the vaccine and booster shot, my infection and condition would have been worse,” he said in the vlog.

The  government has said the country’s low booster uptake is among the factors that triggered an increase in infections that experts call a “weak surge.”

The coronavirus infection rate has also risen in recent weeks, sparking discussions on whether it is safe to resume full face-to-face classes.

As of July 15, the infection rate in Metro Manila, which is under Alert Level 1, stood at 12.6%, up from 10.9% on July 9, OCTA Research Group fellow Fredegusto P. David tweeted.

“In provinces where the positivity rate is very high, i.e., above 20%, the public is strongly advised to practice necessary caution to prevent COVID-19 infection,” he said.

The government enforces a five-tier alert system that is being updated every 15 days. Authorities failed to update the alert level status on July 15.

“The status quo holds for our alert levels, which the Inter-Agency Task Force will be reviewing on Monday,” Mr. Marcos’ office said on Saturday. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza