DOH rejects stricter border control as new omicron sublineages emerge

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2022 01:25 PM

Foreign nationals arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City on February 10, 2022, the first day the country reopened its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Foreign nationals arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City on February 10, 2022, the first day the country reopened its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA - The Department of Health doesn't recommend stricter border restrictions following the discovery of new omicron subvariants in other countries, its spokesperson said Tuesday.

Omicron BA.2.75, which has the possibility of higher transmissibility and immunity escape, has been detected in India, the US and several other countries, according to the World Health Organization. The Chinese city of Shanghai has also discovered omicron subvariant BA.5.2.1.

Government recognizes that the virus is "continuously retaking" but the country cannot remain closed forever, Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

"We’re cognizant of the fact that infections are expected because of the continuous mutation of the virus and transmission also," she told reporters.

"Di ho natin nirerekomenda ang further restrictions sa ating borders...but we would like to remain vigilant. Our surveillance system is up, we're closely monitoring, we're prepared in our communities and hospitals if and when matutuloy-tuloy ang pagtaas ng kaso dito sa ating bansa."

(We don't recommend further restrictions on our borders...but we would like to remain vigilant. Our surveillance system is up, we're closely monitoring, we're prepared in our communities and hospitals if and when cases continue to rise in our country.)

What the country needs to do is ensure that the number of severe and critical patients would remain at the minimum level, Vergeire said.

COVID-19 vaccines still have some efficacy in preventing severe and critical disease against the more transmissible omicron subvariants even if these can escape immunity, Vergeire added.

Government is awaiting studies on reformulated vaccines to be finished, she said.

"Hindi kailangan mag-alala ng ating mga kababayan dahil ang current vaccines natin with its formulation is still effective against COVID-19 and to protect us against severe and critical infections," she said.

(The public doesn't need to worry because our current vaccines with their formulation remain effective against COVID-19 and to protect us against severe and critical infections.)

"No matter what type of variant you have or you are vaccinated and boosted you can still get the infection because the promise ng ating bakuna para i-block ang transmission ng sakit (the vaccine's promise is not to block virus transmission) but to prevent severe and critical infections and of course protect us all from dying from the disease."

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