MANILA: The Philippine government said on Friday that it had secured enough doses to vaccinate the entire population of the country against COVID-19, and urged Filipinos to get vaccinated as the daily rate of infections, fueled by the highly transmissible omicron variant, hit a three-month high.
The Department of Health recorded nearly 22,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday — the highest single-day tally since late September — bringing the country’s total infections to over 2.9 million.
Around 51.6 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated so far — almost half of the country’s 110-million population — against the target of vaccinating 70 percent of the population.
Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said on Friday that the country had secured more than 210 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and called on more people to get their jabs.
“We have secured enough vaccine doses for all our countrymen. The vaccines are here ... for our protection,” Nograles said in a press briefing.
“That’s why we are continuously appealing to those who are still unvaccinated to get your shots, for the partially vaccinated to (get) your second dose, and for those who already have their two doses to get a booster shot,” he continued, adding that vaccination is the “way out” of the pandemic.
The government tightened restrictions in Manila and several other cities and provinces earlier this week. Unvaccinated people in the national capital area were ordered to stay home, after infection numbers tripled over the previous two days.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the arrest of unvaccinated people who violate stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the rapid surge in COVID-19 infections.
In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Duterte said he was “appalled” by the number of unvaccinated Filipinos who “put everybody in jeopardy.”
“I’m now giving orders to the barangay captains (village chiefs) to look for those who are not vaccinated and to … order them … to stay put. If they refuse, if they go out of the house, and around the community, or wherever, they can be restrained,” the president said.
He added that, in the worst-case scenario, the military and police could be deployed to maintain order.
Nograles said the measures apply nationwide.