When Will We Get a DOH Chief? Once COVID-19 Situation 'Normalizes,' Says Bongbong Marcos

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With the detection of XBB, a recombinant version of the BJ.1 (BA.2.10.1 sublineage) and BM.1.1.1 (BA.2.75 sublineage) of the coronavirus in the country, questions about the empty Department of Health (DOH) secretary post arise. President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has yet to name a Department of Health chief. On Friday, October 21, the President said that it would only happen when the local COVID-19 situation has "normalized."

“Sa ngayon, naghahanap kami ng paraan para ma-normalize na natin at hindi na natin kailangan sabihin na ang Pilipinas ay [nasa] state of calamity pa rin,” he told reporters at the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Exposition 2022 at Manila Hotel.

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The President explained the delay in a statement yesterday. According to him, the state shouldn't treat the pandemic as an emergency anymore. He would much rather look at the situation as “something that we will have to manage forever like the flu pneumonia.”

Marcos noted: “I want the people to understand that this is the government’s work, not everything is a crisis, so i-normalize natin ang trabaho ng gobyerno."

He made it clear that the priority of the government right now is to open up businesses and stimulate the economy's growth. Saying that the Philippines is still in a state of emergency might be detrimental to travelers, investors, and tourists.

As it stands, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, who also happens to be the spokesperson for the agency, is the officer-in-charge of the agency.

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Recently, Philippine health officials confirmed the local transmission of the XBB Omicron subvariant and XBC variant.

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