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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was only joking when he suggested giving Covid-19 vaccine shots to people in their sleep if they were hesitant of the jab, his spokesperson said on Thursday.
Harry Roque said the remark was made in jest to liven up the late-night cabinet meeting on Monday, parts of which were televised.
“Those meetings are very long, and you only see a part of it,” he told a press briefing. “In order for us not to fall asleep, we need some jokes.”
Duterte made the proposal while expressing frustration about the continued spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 2.69 million people in the country since last year. More than 40,200 people have died, according to the Department of Health.
“I know a lot of people still don’t want to be vaccinated,” Duterte said. “That’s the problem.” The president said village officials should look for those who are reluctant to get jabs, and “let’s enter their homes they they are sleeping and give them the shots.” “I will lead the journey,” he added.
More than 25.5 million Filipinos, or over 23 per cent of the country’s total population, have been fully vaccinated since the government launched its campaign in March. The government will start to inoculate children on Friday.
While thousands of new Covid-19 cases are still reported everyday in the Philippines, a national task force against Covid-19 has further eased restrictions in the capital region and other parts of the country.
Cinemas, personal care establishments, indoor tourist attractions and recreational venues are now allowed to operate starting on Saturday, at a reduced capacity of 30 per cent, Roque said.
Only fully vaccinated individuals are allowed to use these services, he added.
The government also has removed the requirement of a facility quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers from 49 countries with low Covid-19 case numbers, such as New Zealand, Taiwan and China.
Travellers will just need to present a negative result for an RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to leaving their country of origin, the task force said in the updated arrival protocol.
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