Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles appealed to Filipinos Tuesday, Jan. 18 not to spread fake news about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“‘Wag po tayong magpakalat ng Omicron virus, ‘wag din po tayo magpakalat ng Omicron fake news (Let’s not spread the Omicron virus, let’s not also spread Omicron fake news),” Nograles said in a virtual press conference.
Nograles was referring to a fake “Omicron alert” that went viral Monday, Jan. 17. It was supposedly issued by the Department of Health (DOH).
Omicron is now the dominant variant of coronavirus in the coutnry and is fueling the current surge in daily new cases of the dreaded disease.
“Malinaw po na mas nakakahawa at mas mabilis kumalat ang Omicron variant ng COVID-19 (Clearly, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible and spreads faster). However, just as alarming and concerning is the speed at which false information about Omicron is being spread,” Nograles said.
He said the fake DOH Omicron alert claimed that the Omicron variant takes 20 seconds to infect adults and children.
Moreover, it said that a person infected by Omicron could be re-infected after a window of three weeks. This re-infection from Omicron is allegedly “deadlier”.
“Linawin ko lamang po. Sa ngayon, patuloy ang mga pag-aaral tungkol sa (Let me clarify. There are continous studies about) Omicron variant but not a single study presented backs any of these baseless claims. Zero po. Walang basehan (Zero. These are baseless),” Nograles said.
“Gusto po nating bigyan ng diin–walang pag-aaral ang nagpapatunay na mas malala o mas nakamamatay ang Omicron kapag nare-infect nito ang isang pasyente (We want to stress that there is no study that proves that re-infection from Omicron is worse or deadlier),” noted the Palace official, who also doubles as spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Nograles underscored that individuals who have been fully vaccinated or boosted remain protected from COVID-19, as well as those who observe minimum public health standards (MPHS) such as the wearing of face masks.
“We know that as cases rise due to Omicron, many of us naturally want to know more about this variant. OK lang po yun (That’s OK). We should all be armed with information about COVID pero uulitin ko po (But I repeat), please arm yourselves with the right information. And please get your information from trusted and credible sources,” he added.