Composite photo of health worker in protective attire with DOH logo superimposed. STORY: COVID-19 no longer public health emergency, says DOH FILE PHOTO


MANILA — COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency although it remains a global concern, going by the assessment of Dr. Rontgene Solante, an infectious disease expert and adviser to the Department of Health (DOH).

Solante, chair of San Lazaro Hospital’s adult infectious diseases and tropical medicine unit and a member of the DOH vaccine expert panel, said he believed that the world was no longer in an emergency situation because there were several tools, mainly vaccines, to combat COVID-19.

“We have all these interventions now compared to three years ago. We have a lot of these antiviral agents that can really prevent severe infections,” he said in a television interview.

He added that there was no reason for the World Health Organization (WHO) to maintain the state of public health emergency of international concern declared three years ago due to the pandemic.

The WHO emergency committee on COVID-19 convened on Jan. 27 to discuss whether it should lift the state of international public health emergency although it has yet to announce its decision.

‘Vulnerable population’

Solante nevertheless maintained that COVID-19 should remain a concern especially for the elderly and those with existing medical conditions and compromised immune systems.

“The vulnerable population will always be the target of higher risk of severe cases. That’s where we should focus, on protecting the elderly and those who have comorbidities and the immunocompromised,” he said.

Should the state of public health emergency be lifted, he urged Filipinos, especially the vulnerable population, to continue observing minimum health protocols, including wearing face masks in public, for protection against the coronavirus.

He also urged the government to continue providing COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.