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Duterte says he’ll ease lockdown with enough vaccine stocks

By Kyle Aristopherre T. Atienza and Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporters

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday said he would put Manila and other cities under the most relaxed quarantine once the country gets at least two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

“Once we get a stock of two million, I will let go,” he told a televised news briefing in Filipino, referring to the general community quarantine (GCQ). “I will open the economy. We’re already suffering.”

Mr. Duterte said he was seriously considering a shift to a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) because more people are getting hungry and losing their jobs.

“People have to eat, people have to work, people have to pay for their upkeep and the only way to do it is to open the economy. Without that we’re doomed,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

Mr. Duterte last week rejected a proposal by his economic managers to ease the lockdown, citing the risk of infections from a more contagious coronavirus variant.

Mr. Duterte said he wouldn’t allow face-to-face classes for now. “I cannot make that decision. It will place the children in jeopardy.”

Things might become normal again by early 2023, Mr. Duterte said.

Meanwhile, the arrival of coronavirus vaccines made by AstraZeneca Plc, originally set for March 1, would be delayed by a week due to global supply problems, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

“We received communication saying that it won’t proceed,” he told state television PTV 4 in Filipino, citing the World Health Organization. “It might take another week.”

Presidential spokesman Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. in a statement at the weekend said 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine would arrive on Monday.

The vaccines were supposed to be the first batch of vaccines under a global initiative for equal access.

Vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. last month said the Philippines would take delivery of 5.5 million to 9.3 million doses of AstraZeneca in the first half under the facility.

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