While the government imposes Covid-19 measures with a “sense of urgency,” the public should remain compliant with health protocols amid the threat of the Omicron variant, according to Malacañang.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles appealed to Filipinos on Monday to keep wearing their masks and observing physical distancing especially during the holidays following the discovery of the virus type, which may be vaccine-resistant.
“During the holiday season, with restrictions easing, we know many of you plan to see loved ones and friends. So, we appeal to everyone: Please remain vigilant,” said Nograles, who is also acting presidential spokesperson.
“Let us intensify our efforts on mask wearing, hand washing, avoiding crowds, and receiving vaccines,” he added.
Noting that the entry of the Omicron variant is inevitable, the Palace official also called on mayors and village officials to boost their efforts on active case finding, contact tracing, and isolating their infected residents.
“The local government units and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are directed to ensure strict implementation and adherence to the prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and reintegration strategies,” he said in a televised briefing.
While the Omicron raised concerns worldwide for possibly causing yet another deadly infection surge, Nograles said the Covid-19 protocols set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and enforced by the government remain effective in reducing risks of virus spread.
He also said that the government had acted swiftly to prevent the entry of the Omicron variant, including the imposition of a travel ban on countries where the virus type was first discovered.
“Yes, we are acting with a sense of urgency. Our task force immediately convened and consulted with our local experts,” Nograles said.
The Department of Health, the official added, had been instructed to ensure that the country’s health system capacity is prepared to address the possible increase of Covid-19 cases.
He also said that the pandemic task force’s sub-technical working group on data analytics had been directed to craft models or projections that would show the potential impact of the Omicron variant on prevailing health measures in the country.
First reported in South Africa, Omicron was said to be the Covid-19 virus type with the most number of mutations at present.
The WHO classified it as a “variant of concern,” and early evidence suggests that it could be more resistant to the vaccines that have now been rolled out worldwide.
Nations around the world imposed travel bans on South Africa and neighboring countries following its discovery.
In recent weeks, the Philippines is seeing relatively fewer Covid-19 cases per day, which signals hope for thousands of Filipinos who have lost their jobs to the pandemic.
The government is ramping up its efforts to vaccinate more individuals to reduce the number of hospitalizations and fatalities due to coronavirus, and to bring back investor and consumer confidence to spur economic growth.
Philippine authorities have so far detected 2.83 million Covid-19 infections nationwide, of which 1.7 percent or 48,300 have been fatal.