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Gov’t prepared for Omicron variant entry: DOH

The government assured it is prepared for the introduction of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus type, the Department of Health (DOH) stated Saturday.

In a Laging Handa briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted the new variety has a high likelihood of invading the Philippines.

“From the start, hindi natin sasabihin definitely na hindi makakapasok. Ang pinag-uusapan natin diyan ay kung kailan (From the start, we said we cannot definitely say that it won’t be allowed to enter. The question here is when it will enter),” she added.

“So the chances are there. Malakas po ang tiyansa na maaring makapasok dito sa atin at tayo naman po ay nagpre-prepare (there’s a great chance it will get here and we are preparing)” she continued.

Vergeire advised the people to get vaccinated and continue observing health and safety standards, regardless of the variety.

As of this publishing, no case of Omicron had been discovered in the Philippines yet based on the outcome of the whole genome sequencing released December 9.

“[T]there was no sample positive for the Omicron variant. Na-isama po natin dito iyong isang arrival from South Africa kung saan lumabas po iyong sequencing result na ito po ay isang variation na B.1.1.203. Hindi po siya Omicron. Hindi rin po siya iyong mga variation na binabantayan natin dito sa ating bansa (We already included those who arrived from South Africa. The results contained one variety the B.1.1.203. It’s not Omicron nor one of the varieties that we are watching),” Vergeire stated.

She also revealed that the five returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) from South Africa who were originally labeled as missing have been located.

They generated negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test results but will undergo retests.

Two unlocated ROFs from South Africa, however, were purportedly from Regions 4-B and 10 and had negative Covid-19 test results upon arrival.

“[D]umating po sila pareho ng November 22. So hanggang sa ngayon, our local governments are still searching these two passengers (They both came on November 22. So until today our local officials are still searching these two passengers),” Vergeire stated.

Vergeire said the government constantly controls the arrival of all foreigners and Filipinos.

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