Government is ready amid threat of Omicron variant – DOH

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The government has assured the public that it is ready for the arrival of the more transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, according to the Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted in a Laging Handa briefing that the new variant has a high chance of entering the Philippines.

“From the start, hindi natin sasabihin definitely na hindi makakapasok. Ang pinag-uusapan natin diyan ay kung kailan,” Vergeire said.

“So the chances are there. Malakas po ang tiyansa na maaring makapasok dito sa atin at tayo naman po ay nagpre-prepare” she added.

Regardless of the variant, Vergeire urged the public to get vaccinated and to continue following health and safety protocols.

Based on the results of the whole genome sequencing released on December 9, no cases of Omicron had been detected in the Philippines as of this posting.

“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 variant na B.1.1.203. Hindi po siya Omicron. Hindi rin po siya iyong mga variant na binabantayan natin dito sa ating bansa,” she further explained.

She also said that the five missing returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) from South Africa had been found.

They failed the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test but will be retested.

Meanwhile, two unlocated ROFs from South Africa arrived with negative Covid-19 test results from Regions 4-B and 10.

“Dumating po sila pareho ng November 22. So hanggang sa ngayon, our local governments are still locating these two passengers,” Vergeire said.

Vergeire assured that the government closely monitors all foreigners and Filipinos entering the country.