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Omicron threat prevents easing of alert level
THE Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said the de-escalation of the country’s quarantine status to Alert Level 1 is not foreseeable as of now due to the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said it would be better to observe and monitor first.
“Ay hindi muna. Hindi muna tayo magluluwag to Alert Level 1. Ayaw muna, Alert Level 2 muna tayo. Tignan natin, bantayan natin,” he said.
The whole country is now under Alert Level 2 until Dec. 15 after the province of Apayao was classified under Alert Level 2 starting Dec. 3, along with other regions including Metro Manila.
The health chief cited reports from several European countries where COVID-19 cases were increasing again. This is, according to him, due to eased minimum public health standards in these countries such as removing face masks and increasing social mobility.
Duque pointed out that the government was able to fight off the previous COVID-19 surges in the Philippines during months where vaccine supplies were still limited because the MPHS were continuously observed by the public.
“Harinawa, sana ito ay hindi mas malala o mas peligroso sa Delta variant na kung saan, kahit papaano ay natagumpayan na natin dahil sa baba ng bilang ng kaso ng ating nasaksihan at naipamahagi sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.
Duque noted that the government’s preparations for the Omicron variant is the same with its preparations for the Delta, as well as other variants. This includes the border control which the country has implemented.
So far, passengers coming from South Africa, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique 14 days prior to their arrival in the Philippines are not allowed regardless of their vaccination status.
“Sa awa ng Diyos, wala pa rin tayong Omicron. Pero papasok at papasok ‘yan dahil lagpas 30 bansa na ang nag-ulat ng Omicron variant so ito ay mabilis na kumakalat, pero we need to buy time,” the DOH chief said.
Duque said no Omicron variant has been detected yet from the latest genome sequencing on the samples taken from three travelers who came from Omicron-affected countries to determine if they carry the Omicron variant.
DOH reported on Friday that there were 253 travelers from South Africa, three from Burkina Faso, and 541 from Egypt who arrived in the country from November 15 to November 29. Of which, three tested positive for COVID-19.
Duque said the RT-PCR testing for these travelers is continuous.