OCTA: Let's celebrate Christmas but be ready vs Omicron

OCTA: Let's celebrate Christmas but be ready vs Omicron
Students of Pedro Cruz Elementary School in San Juan City attend their first day of the limited face-to-face classes on Monday, December 06, 2021
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos should not worry over the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 and instead celebrate the upcoming Christmas season carefully, a fellow of the OCTA Research said Monday morning.

“First, there is no need to panic. Let us celebrate Christmas. This is the best time in 20 months for the entire country,” Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, a molecular biologist and a fellow of OCTA Research, said in a televised briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Austriaco, however, stressed the need for the public to be cautious and for the health system to be prepared.  

“It is the time to be careful. We have to prepare… We must prepare the hospital infrastructure and increase healthcare workers,” he said.

Austriaco added the country must continue to vaccinate Filipinos especially at a time when the heavily mutated Omicron variant spreads globally.

“I must urge you to get vaccinated because Omicron, when it arrives in the Philippines, will find every unvaccinated Filipino,” he said. 

The World Health Organization classified Omicron as a variant of concern. 

Latest data showed that 38.69 million Filipinos have completed vaccination, while 53.49 million people have received partial protection.

The COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines has eased, with the DOH reporting hundreds of cases in the past few days from tens of thousands in September. The Department of Health reported Monday the country is now under minimal risk classification for COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Philippines has so far recorded over 2.83 million infections. Of the total, only 0.5% were active cases. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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