By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Following a decision by government authorities to review weekly the country’s border control protocols amid the threat of the Covid-19 Omicron variant which experts fear could potentially be more transmissible and resistant to available vaccines, Partido Reporma senatorial bet Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar appealed to the public to help in securing the country from the entry of the ‘variant of concern’ by coordinating closely with their local government officials in their respective communities.
Earlier, health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the review of border control protocols for foreign countries is usually done every 15 days but this time it has been shortened to just seven days due to the fact that our borders are ‘porous’ and the Omicron variant could enter the country if we are not very careful.
Eleazar expressed agreement with the government’s initiative to suspend temporarily inbound flights from countries and territories that have been categorized in the ‘red list; as they are considered as ‘high-risk’ areas for Covid-19, particularly those infected with the new variant first detected in South Africa and has now been discovered in several countries in southern Africa, Europe, the United States and South America and even Asia as well.
Only travelers from those countries categorized as either ‘green’, ‘yellow’ or ‘red’ will be allowed to enter the Philippines provided they undergo protocols and requirements set by the local authorities.
“We review and do our analysis every 15 days so we can be able to classify countries as to red, yellow, and green, but with this emerging Omicron variant, we are reviewing every week so we can be able to determine if there are still other countries that should be included in our red-listed countries,” Vergeire had pointed out in a television interview.
For his part, Eleazar reminded the public that they have a very important role in efforts to keep our borders safe and the citizenry should immediately report to the proper authorities concerning matters that pertain to travelers who may have come from ‘red listed’ countries.
“Kailangan nating magtulungan dito dahil ang nakasalalay ay ang ating kaligtasan laban sa pandemya,” the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief stressed.
Based on latest reports, the Philippines has yet to detect any case of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered by South African scientists. However, health secretary Francisco Duque III has warned that its entry to the country is only a “matter of when.”