The country is now beginning to prepare the healthcare system to mitigate the effects of the Omicron variant since officials believe that it is only a “matter of time” before it arrives.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the National Task Force (NTF) against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) held an emergency meeting last weekend to discuss the adjustments in the country’s pandemic response due to the emergence of Omicron, a new strain which is feared to be more transmissible than Delta.
“Our main action now is to really observe closely the dynamics of the virus considering there’s a lot of data to learn and we are coordinating with foreign experts to see how we can protect our people,” Galvez said on Tuesday night, Nov. 30.
“For now, we are conducting a lot of preparations, the same preparations that we have with Delta. We are mobilizing our hospitals and looking at reconstitution of our health care workers [by] providing them the needed boosters before the next variant [comes] here. It is only a matter of time,” he added.
Prior to this, Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had also said that the entry of the Omicron variant in the country is no longer “a matter of if” but “a matter of when.”
As such, the government decided to escalate the restrictions in the country’s borders by suspending inbound flights from several African and European countries which already have confirmed cases of Omicron or where it is likely to occur.
Arriving travelers from countries in the green list will also be subjected to the same testing and quarantine protocols with those in the yellow list.
“We know it [Omicron] is coming but what we will do now is to mitigate the impact and transmission by having some pandemic response scale up,” Galvez said.
The vaccine czar made the remark during the arrival of 539,430 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that were donated by the South Korean government.
The vaccine donations came at a crucial time as the country was conducting a three-day national vaccination campaign to boost the country’s inoculation output.
“The Korean government hopes that with these contribution, we will be able to help a little bit the Philippine government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus. Also, these donations will contribute to the existing friendship and cooperation between our two countries,” said Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Inchul.
“South Korea and the Philippines have a strong relations ever since and they are helping us a lot. At the start of the COVID-19, the Korean government has provided us a lot of protection with face mask and test kits. During the earlier delivery of AstraZeneca through COVAX, it came from a manufacturing company in South Korea and we are very thankful for that. In behalf of the NTF, thank you very much,” Galvez responded.