News Release

Omicron must be taken seriously, says vaccine czar

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process and National Task Force against Coronavirus Disease-2019 (NTF COVID-19) chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. gives an update to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on December 21, 2021. JOEY DALUMPINES/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The Filipino public should not underestimate COVID-19 Omicron variant, the country’s vaccine czar said on Tuesday, as he details government measures to ramp up preparations for the new, fast-spreading coronavirus variant.

Reporting to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the chief executive’s weekly public address on government’s COVID-19 interventions in Davao City, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the key message is not to underestimate Omicron.

“So ang message is one, preparation is very key. So we have to revisit ‘yung national government and LGU playbook,” said Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

“Nakita natin na-defeat po natin ang Delta. Kailangan tingnan natin kung ano ‘yung nagawa natin na maganda para at least mapaghandaan po natin ang Omicron.”

Another measure is sustaining stringent border control, he said, congratulating agencies manning the country’s border for a job well done in delaying the entry of COVID-19 Delta variant.

The country’s current capacity must also be reevaluated, he pointed out, adding frontliners and the support system must be mobilized and reconstituted.

Mandates on masking, mass testing, contact tracing, and isolating suspected carriers must also be intensified. These measures should be done simultaneously with massive vaccination drive.

“And then in mitigate and manage risks, we will still use ‘yung manage, ‘yung hammer and dance strategy. Pero ang gagawin natin po ngayon sa hammer more on granular lockdown,” the vaccine czar said.

“Maganda po ‘yung nagawa po ng DILG at saka ng NCR na granular lockdown by house-to-house, at saka po block-to-block, at saka po by streets, at barangay lang po ang nilo-lockdown.”

In confronting the new, more contagious variant, there’s a need to strike a balance between health, economy, and social well-being of the people and the enforcement of minimum health standard, according to Galvez.

At the same time, the country should sustain economic recovery by maintaining workplace discipline through the so-called 3Cs: confined space, close contact and crowding, he noted.

“And then we will improve on ventilation and the effective control and regulation of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) resolutions. And then we will protect the economic frontliners and clients,” he said. PND