Palace reminds public: Stay safe, follow health protocols during holiday season

Published November 29, 2021, 1:52 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang has reminded the public to always keep their safety first in mind when planning or participating in different activities during the holiday season, especially with the looming threats posed by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) variant.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement as the country closed its borders to 14 countries due to perceived risks posed by the highly mutated Omicron variant and because of the high number of cases in some territories.

In his press briefing on Monday, November 29, the acting Palace spokesman recognized that a lot of people were probably already planning their Christmas parties, get-togethers, and other holiday activities.

However, he reminded everyone to always prioritize their safety.

“I would go for safety first. Safety muna (first). Safety first for everyone,” he said.

“In consideration of your activities, ang advice ko po ay (my advice is) safety first,” he added.

As part of the measures to stay safe during the holiday season, Nograles highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated and reminded the public of the ongoing national vaccination days until December 1.

“Let’s take advantage of these three days national vaccination days na magpabakuna na po tayo para (to get vaccinated in order) to fully protect ourselves and our families,” he said.

In addition, he asked the public to stay faithful to the minimum public health standards: the wearing of face masks, handwashing, and physical distancing.

With Omicron designated as a variant of concern, the government’s pandemic task force on Sunday approved recommendations to strengthen the COVID-19 response of local government units (LGUs) which include strongly enjoining LGUs to:

  • Heighten their alert for increasing and clustering of cases and emphasize the need for active case finding
  • Immediately conduct contact tracing and isolation of cases detected from case surveillance among the community, including domestic and international travelers
  • Use RT-PCR testing in order to allow for whole-genome sequencing of collected samples

The Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units are likewise directed to ensure targeted selection of samples for sequencing and address declining submissions of laboratories and regions from domestic and international travelers.

The LGUs and the DILG are further directed to ensure strict implementation and adherence to the Prevent – Detect – Isolate – Test – Reintegrate strategy and adherence and compliance to minimum public health standards (MPHS) with the directive given to the Philippine National Police to enforce MPHS compliance.

In addition, the Department of Health (DOH) is directed to ensure the country’s health system capacity is prepared to address the increase of COVID-19 cases if any; while the Sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics is directed to begin preparing models to show the potential impact of the Omicron variant to prevailing protocols and approvals of the IATF.