By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated and continued vigilance in combating a threat like COVID-19 amid a surge in infections in the country at the start of the year.
“In order to win the war against an unseen enemy, we need discipline and cooperation. Vaccination and continued vigilance are crucial if we want to return to normalcy. Our efforts the past years have already brought us closer to our goal if not for the emergence of new threats, such as the Omicron variant,” said Go.
The lawmaker appealed to the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible, noting that data shows milder symptoms among those infected who have been vaccinated.
“Mas delikado talaga kapag hindi bakunado. Kung mahal ninyo ang inyong pamilya, magpabakuna na po kayo. Libre naman ito galing sa gobyerno. Proteksyon ninyo ito laban sa virus at susi upang malampasan ang pandemya,” Go appealed to those who remain unvaccinated.
Go emphasized that vaccination works and can protect individuals from the worst effects of the virus. He however warned that a portion of the population is still unvaccinated and if they will be infected, they will be at a higher risk against the virus.
“We have many documented cases of those who received their vaccines experiencing only milder symptoms and preventing serious consequences to their health,” explained Go.
The country has so far received a total of 210.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Around 112.8 million doses have been administered, as of January 7. Some 52.1 million individuals are fully vaccinated while 57.6 million have received their first dose. In addition to this, around 3.1 million individuals have obtained their booster shots.
He also pointed out that continued vigilance and discipline from all are critical in effectively stopping community transmissions.
“Kung gusto natin bumalik sa normal na pamumuhay at talunin ang kalaban na hindi natin nakikita, kailangan ang disiplina at kooperasyon ng lahat,” Go stressed.
Go specifically encouraged everyone to strictly observe the mandated health and safety protocols, such as proper mask use, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying at home whenever possible.
“Huwag natin sayangin ang mga pinaghirapan natin nung nakaraang taon. We continue to ask for your cooperation and understanding. As we course through this difficult time, we must all stand together,” appealed Go.
The senator’s call comes after the Department of Health on January 9 logged 28,707 new infections, its highest tally since the pandemic began. The majority of new infections are concentrated in the National Capital Region (59%), Region IV-A (20%) and Region III (10%).
Some 35% of the country’s intensive care unit beds are in use, while 52% are being utilized in Metro Manila.
“Over the past week, we have seen a consistent rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases … Whether this is because of the more transmissible Omicron variant, the holiday surge or combination of many other factors has yet to be seen,” he said.
Go assured that the government is working harder to accelerate its vaccination drive and information campaign to curb the sudden increase of infections.
On his part, he vowed to pursue initiatives that will strengthen the healthcare system, establish new hospitals, and increase the bed capacity and capabilities of existing healthcare facilities.
He continues to push for measures needed to improve the COVID-19 response and facilitate the economy’s recovery, while ensuring the country is more prepared for future health emergencies.
In 2020, Go had filed Senate Bill No. 2155 which establishes the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP). The VIP will enable the country to develop and manufacture its own vaccines against diseases, such as COVID-19.
He also filed SBN 2158 in the same year which establishes the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, in turn, will serve as the lead agency for developing communicable disease control and prevention initiatives. It will be primarily responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the Philippines.
“Ibang klaseng giyera ang hinaharap natin ngayon at ang kalaban ay hindi natin nakikita. Kaya kailangan ang disiplina at kooperasyon ng lahat. Nakikiusap ako sa mga kasamahan ko sa gobyerno at sa publiko, we are fighting for survival. Laban ito ng bawat mamamayang Pilipino. Dapat magtulungan at magbayanihan tayo ngayon,” said Go.
The senator highlighted that the threat of COVID-19, with its many variants, is very real but can be mitigated through a whole of nation approach in order for the country to heal and recover as one.
“Let us remain disciplined, follow health protocols, cooperate with the government and become part of the solution. Together, let us all be catalysts of unity and cooperation in order to fully recover and heal as one resilient nation,” he ended. (ai/mtvn)