Christopher “Bong” Go, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, urged Filipinos to be more cautious and strictly adhere to the health and safety protocols as the nation faces the threat of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
“Let us not be complacent because we are not yet out of the woods. The threat of the new Omicron variant is for real,” he said adding that observing proper health protocols is the key against the new menace.
The new Omicron variant was first reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa on 24 November. The variant features a considerable number of mutations, making it a variant of concern.
Present vaccines were based on the original Wuhan strain which is considerably different from the Omicron variant, prompting experts to warn that the latter may evade vaccine protection. It remains to be seen by experts if the new variant may be more transmissible and it will be weeks before it can be determined if it causes more severe Covid-19 cases.
In response, the government has halted inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe until 15 December to prevent the variant from entering the country. The Department of Health stated on Saturday, 27 November, that discussions are ongoing about expanding the travel ban.
Go, meanwhile, reiterated the importance of self-discipline and bayanihan in warding off the threats of Covid-19 and its emerging variants.
The senator appealed to those who are not yet inoculated to do so as soon as possible, especially as some studies found that Omicron’s full impact will be felt in countries where fewer are vaccinated.
As of 28 November, the government has administered over 81.29 million doses. Nearly 45.4 million individuals have received their first dose while 35.7 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated. Of the latter figure, a total of 188,084 have received their booster shots.
Earlier, Go encouraged all eligible Filipinos to get their free Covid-19 shots during the National Vaccination Days and help the government achieve its goal of inoculating an additional 15 million individuals across the country by the start of December.
The three-day event dubbed “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” runs from 29 November to 1 December. It is part of the government’s whole-of-nation approach to achieve population protection or immunization of at least 50 percent of the total population.