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Health department strained to get by without new head, directives

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has yet to name his health chief despite the continuing increase in coronavirus infections and the waning immunity among the vaccinated population.

The Department of Health (DoH) said in the absence of a secretary, “our current pandemic response protocols continue to be implemented.”

“Everything is status quo until new directives from our new president come in,” it said in a Viber message to reporters over the weekend.

The Philippines is still confronting threats from emerging coronavirus variants and struggling to enhance the immunity of its citizens with the low take up of booster shots.

In his first memorandum circular, Mr. Marcos said government agencies where he has yet to designate a head shall be led by an officer-in-charge, who should be “the next in rank and most senior office.”

The DoH has yet to name its temporary head.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire, a career executive officer and had stood as spokesperson for the agency, is now heading the National Vaccination Operations Center.

The administration of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte placed Metro Manila, which has recently logged a significant increase in coronavirus cases, under the first level of a five-scale alert system until July 15. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza