MANILA, Philippines – The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 has called on the public to remain calm and continue adhering to the health and safety protocols set by the government amid the threat of a new and highly mutated coronavirus variant called Omicron (B.1.1.529).
NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. assured that the government is closely monitoring all developments related the new variant.
The variant, first detected in South Africa, has been classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, huwag po kayong mag-panic. Sundin lang po natin ang minimum health standards at protocols, magsuot po ng face mask, at hopefully magawa natin ‘yung ating ginawa sa Delta variant where we were able to completely manage yung [virus and prevent] possible unnecessary loss of lives at economy,” Galvez said in a statement.
He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has started discussions on the recalibration of the government’s strategies to combat the new variant as well as the scaling up of treatment therapies in hospitals.
“With the coming of the Omicron, we want to make sure that our focused targets, the A1 to A3, the most vulnerable ay [mabakunahan] po natin. In this case, kapag nakuha po natin ‘yan, mako-control natin ang critical disease, hospitalization at excessive deaths,” Galvez said.
“Ang aming panagawan din sa lahat ng ating kababayan, ‘yung mga wala pang bakuna, magpabakuna na. During the onslaught of the Delta [variant], nakita natin na karamihan ng casualties at severe cases ay 75-85% unvaccinated,” he added.
Despite the threat of the new COVID-19 variant, the vaccine czar said the national government remains committed to achieve its target milestones by next year.
These include fully vaccinating at least 77 million Filipinos by the first quarter of 2022 and starting the inoculation for minors aged 5 to 11.
By the second quarter of 2022, the government shall have fully vaccinated 90 million individuals, in time for the national elections, Galvez said.
The rest of the Filipino population is expected to be fully vaccinated by the third quarter of next year based on the national government’s vaccination synchronization matrix, he added.