The Department of Health (DOH) said that areas in the Philippines should remain under the Alert Level 2 amid concerns about the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III believes that it is not yet time to place some areas in the country under the lowest alert level despite the continuous downtrend of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases nationwide.
“Para sa akin dapat siguro na tama lang na manatili muna tayo sa alert level 2 (For me, it’s just appropriate that we stay under Alert Level 2 for now),” he said during a public briefing on Tuesday, Dec. 7.
“Bakit? Unang-una, ang mobility pataas nanaman ngayong kapaskuhan, alam natin iyan. At merong nagbabadya o banta ng Omicron variant (Why? First of all, mobility is increasing again this holiday season and there is a threat of the Omicron variant),” he added.
Under the Alert Level 2, Duque said that some businesses were already open to help revive the country’s economy.
“Malaki-laki na rin ng bahagi ng ekonomiya na binuksan natin under the Alert level 2 at ang mga establisyemento—ang kapasidad nasa 50 percent (We have already opened a big percentage of our economy under the Alert Level 2 as establishments are allowed to open at 50 percent capacity),” he said.
To note, all areas in the country were currently placed under Alert Level 2 until Dec. 15.
Omicron initial assessment
The Health chief said that the Omicron variant may cause mild symptoms as he cited the initial assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Sa aking pakikipagpulong sa WHO Country Rep. Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, sinabi niya na malaki ang nagpapakita ng datos na mukhang mild ang symptoms and no deaths reported as of yet patungkol sa Omicron variant, pati sa hospitalization, mukhang hindi naman sumisipa (In my meeting with WHO Country Rep. Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, he said current data shows that it causes mild symptoms and no deaths reported as of yet regarding the Omicron variant, as well as no increased hospitalizations),” he said
“So, parang hindi naman ito naiiba, parang ang sinasabi it’s no cause for alarm (So, it seems like Omicron is no different. It’s like saying it is no cause for alarm),” he added.
Despite this initial assessment, Duque reminded the public to remain on guard.
“Maigi na maghantay pa tayo ng karagdagang information at datos para mas malinaw at magabayan tayo (We need to wait for more information and data in order for us to have a guideline) in terms of recalibrating our response,” he said.
The Health chief urged the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and strictly follow health protocols.