File photo of senator and presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao with wife Jinkee and daughter Queenie. (Photo: Zimbio)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — With the alert level in Metro Manila back to No. 3 starting today until the 15th of January 2022, Senator and MP3 Alliance presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao appealed to the public to strictly follow the health safety protocols.
The more stringent alert level status was set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) amid the rising cases of the virus, health experts believe as powered by family reunions, Christmas parties, and other social gatherings.
“Nararapat para sa ating mga mamamayan na sundin pa rin po natin ang ating health protocols at all times at maging ang ating mga kapulisan ay dapat manatiling mapagmatyag sa pagpapatupad nito,” said the lawmaker-boxer from Saranggani who also expressed his own apprehension on the possibility of escalation of the dreaded Omicron variant.
For his part, Presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles said the decision to revert back to Alert Level 3 was primarily triggered by the sudden spike in coronavirus disease infections which actually dipped into a low of around 300 cases nationwide before the holidays.
On Sunday, 02 January 2022, the DOH reported 4,600 new positive cases.
“Nakita naman natin sa mga nakaraang araw ay nag-increase exponentially ang mga kaso dahil sa Holiday activities kung saan tumaas ang movement ng mga tao at bumaba ang compliance sa minimum public health standards. Isa rin sa dahilan ang detection ng local cases ng Omicron variant (We saw an exponential rise during the past days because of the Holiday activities where there were increased movement and compliance with minimum public health standards may have been disregarded. Local cases of the Omicron variant were also detected),” Nograles noted.
Nograles added that an increase in Covid-19 positive cases is expected in the succeeding days thus, the IATF’s decision.
“After 11 days of active cases below 10,000, the number increased to 10,418 on December 29 and was at 14,233 by year-end after 2,961 new cases. The Department of Health (DoH) confirmed 10 new cases of the Omicron variant, with three already recovered.
Because of this, Pacquiao said it is imperative for Filipinos to be doubly vigilant over the high possibility of local transmission of Omicron virus.
The incumbent senator advised the citizenry not to let their guard down as precautionary measures must be made as the threat of Covid-19 is still present as many families have seemingly forgotten to follow the minimum health safety protocols because of the holiday spirit.
“Marami ang nakalimot sa pag-iingat kaya kailangan nating sundin ang mga protocol para sa ating proteksyon at kaligtasan. Huwag sana tayong maging kampante dahil mahalaga na pinangangalagaan natin hindi lamang ang ating kalusugan kundi maging ang ating mga mahal sa buhay at kapwa,” the People’s Champ pointed out.
Pacquiao also enjoined more Filipinos, particularly those belonging to the priority groups such as senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities, to shrug off their hesitancy or apprehensions over the efficacy and side-effects of available vaccines and have themselves vaccinated because this is one way of having themselves protected from infection.
Based on an analysis by the University of the Philippines OCTA Research Group, the majority of the new and active cases of Covid-19 are those individuals who have not been administered with any vaccine so it only shows the importance of being protected through vaccination.
Under Alert Level 3 status, establishments or activities are being allowed only at a maximum of 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity, provided that all workers of the establishments are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Intrazonal and interzonal movement are still allowed, however, with reasonable restrictions imposed by local government units (LGUs), which should not be stricter as those prescribed under higher alert levels and subject to the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of their respective Regional IATF.
As a final word, Pacquiao reiterated his appeal for everyone to be mindful of protecting themselves and their families by strictly following the protocols so that what has been gained during the lockdowns and restrictions would not go to waste.