MANILA— People are looking forward to celebrating the holidays with their loved ones after nearly two years into the pandemic as COVID-19 cases continue to go down and the vaccination rate increases.
But an expert reminded the public to maintain caution even as looser restrictions now allow Christmas parties.
Dr. Nina Gloriani said merrymaking should be done with compliance with COVID-19 restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease in light of the new variant Omicron.
“May mga precautions naman. Patuloy pa rin naman ang buhay. Ang sabi nga ng iba we have to learn to live with the virus,” said Gloriani.
(There are precautions. Life goes on. They say we have to learn to live with the virus.)
On Friday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Christmas parties are allowed under Alert Level 2.
However, establishments hosting these parties must observe a 50-percent venue capacity limit. Those with safety seals can operate at an additional 10 percent of venue capacity. Party-goers should wear masks and observe physical distancing.
“Nandoon ang pag-iingat so merong mga party na mangyayari, ‘di maiiwasan 'yan pero maganda 'yung narinig ko na dapat lahat ng sasali doon ay bakunado at lahat ng magsisilbi doon sa party na 'yun ay bakunado and then you have the physical distancing,” said Gloriani.
(We cannot avoid parties but precautions should still be there and what’s good about it is that those joining must be fully vaccinated as well as the ones serving in these parties and you have physical distancing.)
She added, “Merong trade off sa ginagawa natin, may pag-iingat, pero pwede po para sa akin.”
(There's a tradeoff in what we're doing, there's caution, but that's OK with me.)
The whole country is under Alert Level 2 until Dec. 15.
The Philippines has yet to detect a case of the heavily mutated Omicron COVID-19 variant spreading globally and spurring border closures.
Gloriani said it may take time for experts to find out whether or not the Omicron variant could escape immunity.
“Siguro may isa o dalawang linggo pa bago natin malaman 'yan pero sa ngayon ang nakikita mild ang symptoms,” she said.
(It may take maybe around one or two weeks before we know that but for now, what we know is that symptoms are mild.)
In an interview on TeleRadyo on Saturday, Gloriani said COVID-19 vaccines still help in providing protection against the virus.
“Sana po maintindihan ng mga tao 'yung need for immunization. Sabi nga natin dahil sa mga variant medyo bumaba 'yung proteksiyon pero it is still enough to protect you especially from severe form of COVID.” she said.
(I hope people understand the need for immunization. Some say vaccine efficacy decreases with the new variants but it is still enough to protect you especially from the severe form of COVID.)
She said the virus mutates in areas with low immunization coverage.
“Doon nagbe-breed viruses na 'yan, dumadami, nagmu-mutate kaya tayo nakita niyo bumaba na kaso natin tumataas kasi ating immunization coverage,” she said.
(That is where viruses breed, mutate that’s why our cases are low because our immunization coverage is higher.)
She hopes that people learn from the lessons of the past year where the health care system was also overwhelmed with the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Kaya naghahanda tayo. We do not want that to happen again. We should learn from our lessons.