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Pandemic taskforce simplifies list of 4th priority group for COVID-19 vaccination

The inter-agency taskforce handling the coronavirus response has adopted a resolution simplifying the list of workers who will be prioritized in the government’s coronavirus vaccination program, said the presidential palace.

Presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr., made the announcement during a televised news briefing as the country is set to begin the inoculation of those in the fourth priority group, or A4, next month.

Mr. Roque said the taskforce divided the fourth priority group into three subgroups: private workers required to physically report to work; employees in the government; and, informal sector workers “who may be required to work outside their residences and those working in private households.”

Philippine authorities have said the vaccination of those in the A4 priority group will begin in June.

Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the World Health Organization Representative to the Philippines, earlier said the country will take delivery next month of as many as two million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer, Inc. through a global facility for equal access.

About two million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, Plc will also arrive in June, he said.

The Philippines may receive about 4.5 million more doses of the vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech, Ltd. next month, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. had said earlier.

Mr. Roque said the inoculation of A4 workers will begin in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

He also said that family members of health workers and outbound overseas Filipino workers are now included in the first priority group or A1.

He said the local governments “shall be required” to exert efforts to continuously prioritize health front liners, the elderly, and people with comorbidities by establishing special lanes or vaccination centers for them.

In a related development, Mr. Roque said the taskforce has allowed accommodation establishments in areas under general lockdown to accept guests for leisure purposes at up to 30% of their venue capacity, subject to guidelines laid out by the Tourism department.

Establishments that are accredited for staycation activities, on the other hand, have been allowed to operate at full capacity.

Mr. Roque on Thursday said the government would probably ease the restrictions enforced in Metro Manila and nearby cities and provinces. He said President Rodrigo R. Duterte might announce the new quarantine classifications for June by the end of the month. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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