MALACAÑANG urged the public on Monday, November 29, 2021, to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as a preventive and safety measure against the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said aside from observing health protocols, particularly constant hand washing, wearing of face mask and observing physical distancing, getting Covid-19 jab is also “very important.”

“That is how you can help the government fight the Omicron variant,” he said in a press conference.

“Huwag po tayo magpakampante, lalo na at meron tayong variant of concern, ang Omicron. Sabi nga ng Department of Health (DOH), hindi ito tanong kung makakapasok ba siya sa bansa. It's really a matter of time,” he added.

Nograles said as of November 29, 45.43 million individuals have at least received their first dose, while 35.68 million have been fully vaccinated.

He appeased the public with the National Government’s effort particularly in the implementation of four-door policy to prevent the Omicron variant from entering the country.

The said policy includes the imposition of international travel restrictions, strengthening of quarantine and testing protocols on arriving travelers, information dissemination on preventing, detecting, isolating, treating and reintegrating on local government level and imposition of local and granular lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.

Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is also studying the possibility of reimposing the mandatory wearing of face shield policy as a measure against the Omicron variant.

“We're acting with a sense of urgency. Agad namang nagdedesisyon ang IATF, kinokonsulta health experts,” said Nograles.

Following the alert about the Omicron variant, the IATF prohibited the entry of travelers from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique where the first cases of the said strain were detected.

An Omicron carrier traveler was also detected in Hong Kong but the IATF is yet to decide whether to include the territory in the red list.

There is not much information about the Omicron variant, but the World Health Organization (WHO) said preliminary evidence suggests there may be a higher risk of reinfection from it.

The WHO classified Omicron as a variant of concern that has a large number of mutations, which have “some more in characteristics.” (SunStar Philippines)