Expert says vaccination is still the best defense to curb Delta variant ‘tsunami’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 28, 2021   •   293

MANILA, Philippines — Cases of COVID-19 are expected to increase further, fueled by the Delta variant which is more than twice as contagious as the original virus according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As reported by government adviser and infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group, the Delta variant can be likened to a tsunami in terms of spread and transmission.

“Tataas at tataas talaga ang kaso because the Delta variant is two to three times more infectious,” Salvaña said during the Laging Handa briefing on Friday (August 27).

“Delta variant is like a tsunami, mabilis talaga ang pagkalat,” he added.

Salvaña, however, emphasized that vaccination is indeed the key to curbing the spread of COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant.

“Ang pinakalaban talaga natin dito [sa Delta variant] ay ang vaccination,” he said.

“Ang important po talaga dito ay tuloy-tuloy ang pagbabakuna natin kasi nakita naman natin sa models natin na kahit anong gawin natin, kahit anim na linggo pa ‘yan ng ECQ, tatamaan pa rin talaga tayo ng tinatawag naming Delta tsunami,” he added.

The expert stressed that continuous vaccination, supported by strict compliance to minimum public health standards such as physical distancing and wearing of face mask and face shield, is still the best measure against the Delta variant.

“Kasi ang vaccination ay ang pinaka-last line of defense natin, in the sense na kahit makalusot siya sa atin, kapag tinamaan ka ng COVID, your risk of ending up in a hospital and dying goes down by 90%,” he added.

Salvana noted the recent increase in new COVID-19 cases recorded per day which ranged from 12,000 to as much as 18,000 in the past week. This was despite the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila from August 6 to 20.

Phl expands coverage of travel restrictions to 7 more countries due to Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ travel restrictions to control the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant had been expanded to include seven more countries.

In a statement released Sunday (November 28), Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) added Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy to the red list.

Already on the red list are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries/jurisdictions/territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” Nograles said.

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List countries, jurisdictions, or territories,” he added.

The red list or areas considered as “high-risk” for COVID-19 will be updated after December 15.

Passengers who are already in transit and all those who have been to the red list countries/territories/jurisdictions within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines and who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30 are exempted from this restriction.

They will, however, undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the seventh day.

Nograles further said that passengers merely transiting through the red countries, will not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed at the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.

However, they will still be required to comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols. —/mbmf

Gov’t eyes possible return of face shield policy amid Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is mulling over the possibility of bringing back the implementation of the face shield policy following the threats from the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron (B1.1.529), said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

Galvez made the announcement on Sunday (November 28) after the detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa and other European countries, causing global panic and the tightening of restrictions.

“We will look at the possibility. ‘Yan ang inaano ni (Health) Sec (Francisco) Duque. He is pro na maibalik ang any protections na pwede natin gamitin kasi some people from WHO (World Health Organization) also believe that kaya nagkaroon ng magandang result sa Delta as to others because of the protection of face shield,” said Galvez during a virtual presser with reporters.

Galvez also said that no case of Omicron variant, which is considered to be more contagious, has been reported in the country as of yet.

President Rodrigo Duterte had allowed face shields to be optional for Alert Level 3, 2, and 1 but it is still required for Alert level 5 areas. —/mbmf

Duterte calls for creation of framework for vaccine certificate recognition

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the creation of a framework for vaccine certificate recognition which will allow fully-vaccinated individuals, regardless of vaccine brand, to safely travel cross-border, the Presidential Communications team said Sunday (November 28).

“We need a framework on vaccine certificate recognition that is scientific, non-discriminatory, and compliant with WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines,” the President said.

The statement further said that the President’s sentiment comes after the decision of some countries, including the European Union, to only allow individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 using the four vaccines recognized by its European Medicines Agency.

“One must not withhold recognition on the basis of vaccines used when access to certain brands remain unequal,” Duterte said. —/mbmf

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