By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher “Bong” Go urged Filipinos to be more cautious and to continue strictly adhering to the health and safety protocols as there have been an increase in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in the Philippines.
As of January 1, the Department of Health has detected 14 cases of Omicron variants throughout the country. Three of the cases are local, with two from Bicol and one from Metro Manila, and the rest are imported. The health department also noted that there is a “high possibility” of local transmission of the said variant.
“As the holiday season draws to a close, everyone is reminded to remain vigilant as we continue to battle COVID-19. It is important to understand that the health protocols will only work if every person remains disciplined and cooperative,” Go emphasized.
He warned that noncompliance with the protocols and other requirements will be strongly dealt with, in accordance with the law.
“Huwag muna tayong makumpiyansa dahil delikado pa rin ang panahon lalo na at may mga bagong variant ng COVID-19 gaya nitong Omicron,” said Go.
“Sayang ‘yung naumpisahan natin — ang magandang takbo ng ating COVID-19 response at vaccine rollout — kung magiging kampante muli tayo,” he added.
The senator renewed his appeal to Filipinos to get inoculated as soon as possible. He also urged those eligible to get their booster shots.
“Magpabakuna na sa kanilang pinakamalapit na vaccination site upang makuha ang proteksyon na kailangan laban sa patuloy pa ring kumakalat na COVID-19 na sakit at iba’t ibang variants nito,” stressed Go.
“Libre naman po ang bakuna mula sa gobyerno. Paraan din ito upang maprotektahan ang inyong mga pamilya at mga komunidad,” he added.
DOH revealed on Saturday that data from hospitals in the National Capital Region showed that 85 percent of those in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) who require ventilators are unvaccinated.
Due to the spike in new COVID-19 cases, calls to the hospital referral system have also doubled. On Sunday, the country registered 4,600 new cases, up from less than 500 new cases per day in early December.
Go assured that the government is using every available tool to prepare for a possible new wave of infections and protect the economy from its damaging effects.
The government moved swiftly and raised the alert level status in Metro Manila from Level 2 to Level 3 from January 3 to 15.
“Pabilisin pa natin ang pag-deploy ng mga bakuna sa buong bansa upang mas maaga nating ma-attain ang ninanais nating herd immunity sa gitna ng iba’t ibang pagsubok na dala ng pandemya at ang pag-usbong ng mga bagong variants ng COVID-19,” Go said.
As of January 1, the country has administered a total of 108,757,357 doses of vaccines. A total of 49,797,374 Filipinos are fully vaccinated while 57,147,099 have received their first doses. A total of 1,812,884 booster shots have been administered.
“Please remember that the government cannot do this alone. We need your cooperation in ending this pandemic, just as we need your help in continuing our collaborative work in the community in light of the multiple crises that we are facing,” he ended.