By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter
THE CURFEW in Manila, the capital and nearby cities will be lifted on Nov. 4, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Wednesday.
This would allow malls to extend operating hours to prevent the influx of shoppers during the holiday season, MMDA Chairman Benjamin de Castro Abalos, Jr. said by telephone.
“Anticipating the influx of shoppers in time for the holiday season, we requested the malls to extend their mall hours to 11 p.m.,” he said.
Mr. Abalos said mall owners had agreed to adjust their operating hours by “opening an hour later at 11 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. to make the traffic manageable.
The move, which the mayors of Metro Manila approved, would give both mall goers and workers enough time to get home, he said.
The MMDA would “respect the implementation of curfew on minors based on existing ordinances,” Mr. Abalos said in a separate statement.
The Department of Health (DoH) reported 1,591 coronavirus infections on Wednesday — the lowest daily tally since Feb. 24. — bringing the total to 2.8 million.
The death toll rose to 43,586 after 186 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 4,294 to 2.7 million, it said in a bulletin.
There were 38,014 active cases, 69.4% of which were mild, 5.2% did not show symptoms, 8.1% were severe, 13.87% were moderate and 3.4% were critical.
The agency said 349 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 330 of which were reclassified as recoveries and four were tagged as deaths, while 132 recoveries were relisted as deaths. Seven laboratories failed to submit data on Nov. 1.
DoH said 44% intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate in Metro Manila was 39%.
Meanwhile, the country’s vaccine czar said the government aims to give out as many as 1.5 million vaccine doses daily starting Nov. 20.
“We want to achieve 1 million to 1.5 million jabs per day starting Nov. 20,” Carlito G. Galvez told a taped Cabinet meeting in mixed English and Filipino.
The government would activate as many as 5,000 vaccination sites and use malls, schools, gyms, camps and function halls of different government agencies, he said.
Mr. Galvez said the state targets to fully vaccinate at least 90% of teachers, students and other school staff. It also aims to fully vaccinate at least 70% of seniors, the vaccine chief said.
Health workers should receive booster shots by the end of the month, he added.
At the same meeting, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he had ordered the police and military to use their choppers to fast-track the delivery of coronavirus vaccines to remote areas.
“When the vaccines arrive in the country, the helicopters will take over and will deliver the vaccines to municipal governments,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.
The President also ordered the Interior and Local Government department to punish local officials “who are not performing or using the doses given to them in the most expeditious manner.” “I will hold each and every local government unit accountable for this.”
The Health department said about 60.4 million vaccine doses had been given out as of Nov. 2. Almost 28 million adult Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje told an online news briefing.
The Philippines began vaccinating children aged 12 to 17 on Wednesday. DoH has said the goal is to inoculate at least 80% of 12 million children by yearend.
The program initially covered seriously ill children. More than 40,000 children with health risks have gotten their first dose as of Tuesday.
DoH has recorded about 30 minor cases of adverse reactions such as rashes, headache and anxiety reaction, Ms. Cabotaje said. Two minors experienced allergic reactions, she added.
The government aims to expand the coronavirus vaccination program to children aged five to 11 years old next year, she said.
The Health Technology Assessment Council and Food and Drug Administration have yet to approve the expansion, Ms. Cabotaje said.
Metro Manila had the highest vaccination rate among all regions, while the Bangsamoro region in southern Philippines had the lowest, she added.