DOH Speaks on Omicron Variant, Situations in PH

DOH Gives Update on COVID-19 Situation in PH Now amid Omicron Threat

DOH – The Department of Health spoke on the Omicron variant and the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines now.

Currently, several countries are closing their borders once again to travelers from specific nations following the detection of a “heavily mutated” variant of COVID-19 – the B.1.1.529 or named by the World Health Organization “Omicron”. It was detected in at least 17 nations across the globe.

First recorded in South Africa, WHO warned countries to prevent the entry and spread of the Omicron as it may be more transmissible compared to the previously identified variants of the virus. Currently, studies regarding this variant of concern are ongoing.

Hong Kong, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Mozambique are among the nations that recorded cases of the Omicron variant. Several countries are currently implementing travel restrictions on travelers from nations with confirmed cases of the said variant of concern.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire
Photo: The Manila Times

The Philippines is one of the countries with existing travel bans. The PH travel ban includes Switzerland, South Africa, Italy, and several other nations. Although Hong Kong logged cases of the said variant of concern, PH is not closing its borders on travelers from Hong Kong. According to the Department of Health (DOH), it is because the cases in Hong Kong are foreign cases.

Flights from the Red List countries are currently suspended. The Bureau of Immigration previously expressed that Filipinos from the Red List countries who wish to go home to the Philippines can go home through the repatriation flights. They have to coordinate with the Philippine embassy or the nearest consulate.

Based on a report on ABS-CBN News, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that Omicron is not yet detected in the Philippines. Also, there are no areas in the country that are experiencing a sudden spike in the COVID-19 cases – an indication of a new variant.

Vergeire cited that in other nations, their COVID-19 cases have a surge and the situation is not the same in the Philippines thus she believes that the Omicron variant is not yet present here.

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