Palace stresses safety as people go home for holidays

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace stresses safety as people go home for holidays
Catholic devotees attend a Christmas eve mass maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, outside the Quiapo church in Manila on December 24, 2020.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the country's improving pandemic numbers, Malacañang urged Filipinos not to be complacent and to prioritize their safety when visiting their loved ones during the holidays.

Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles noted that a new variant of concern called Omicron has emerged so it is important to continue following health protocols like the wearing of face masks, frequent handwashing, and physical distancing.

"Let us not be complacent especially now that we have a variant of concern, Omicron. The DOH (Department of Health) has said, it's not a question on whether it would enter the country, it is really a matter of time," Nograles said at a press briefing on Monday.

"During the holiday season with restrictions easing, we know many of you plan to see loved ones and friends so we appeal to everyone to please, please, please remain vigilant," he added.

Nograles advised Filipinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect their families from the virus, which has so far left more than 48,000 people dead in the Philippines. 

"I would go for safety first, safety first. Safety first for everyone," Nograles said.  

"That's why it is very important to get vaccinated now. Let’s take advantage of these three days National Vaccination Days to fully protect ourselves and our families," he added.

The government earlier Monday kicked off its three-day national vaccination campaign to achieve its goal of vaccinating at least half of the country's population by yearend. It aims to inoculate nine million people during the vaccination drive.

Experts are still studying whether Omicron, which was first reported in South Africa, is more transmissible than the other COVID-19 variants.

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