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3 1/3 Years (1,230 days) After Implementation, the State of Health Emergency in the Philippines is Lifted with Proclamation 297 signed on 21st July 2023!
On 30 January 2020, the WHO Director General declared that the Covid-19 outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
On 8th March 2020, then Philippines President Duterte declared a public health emergency due to corona virus. This was formalized on 9th March 2020 with Proclamation No. 922. Proclamation 922 was to stay in effect until lifted by the President.
The public health emergency was followed by the Declaration of State of Calamity under Proclamation 929, initially in effect for six months from March 16, 2020 but then first extended for one additional year via Proclamation No.1021 up to Sept. 12, 2021, then through Proclamation No.1218 up to 12 September 2022, and finally through Proclamation 57 up to 31 December 2022 when it finally expired.
Despite the expiry of the Philippines State of Calamity, the State of Health Emergency remained in effect. Even when the WHO declared the Covid-19 Pandemic over on 5th May 2023, the Philippines maintained their State of Health Emergency. The DOH secretary acknowledged that this was maintained in order to wait for the FDA to issue CPR (certificate of product registration) for Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines, which would allow the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be sold commercially, and allow the DOH’s vaccination procurement and delivery program to continue.
With Pfizer’s issuance of CPR for their bivalent product on 26th June 2023, all barriers for the final lifting of State of Health Emergency were removed.
“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orders, memoranda, and issuances that are effective only during the State of Public Health Emergency shall be deemed withdrawn, revoked or canceled and shall no longer be in effect,” according to the proclamation.
Under Proclamation 297, all government agencies are enjoined to ensure that their policies, rules, and regulations will take into consideration the lifting of the state of public health emergency.
Government agencies are also instructed to amend existing or promulgate new issuances, as may be appropriate.
Garafil said all emergency use authorization (EUA) issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Executive Order (EO) 121 issued in 2020 would remain valid for one year from the date of issuance of Proclamation 297 “for the sole purposes of exhausting the remaining vaccines.”
Now we wait to see the fallout of the end of the health emergency. Will the dead no longer require PCR testing before burial (at cost to their bereaved families)? Will hospital inpatients no longer be required to present PCR testing prior to treatment or delivery of their baby? Will the requirements for regular negative PCR testing be dropped by those companies that have required it for the past 3+ years? Will unvaccinated visitors to the Philippines no longer be required to submit negative PCR or antigen testing? Will we really go back to ‘normal’?
More in the next article. For now we celebrate! However, the repercussions are far from over. They will reverberate for generations.