Doctor's advice: Avoid Christmas parties amid Omicron risk
MANILA - An infectious disease expert on Wednesday cautioned against attending gatherings this holiday season as information about the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus remains scarce.
Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine unit of the San Lazaro Hospital, said it would be difficult to celebrate Christmas and New Year when there is a possibility of contracting COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant.
"We need more information about the Omicron variant of concern…When we do activities that increase our risk of getting the infection—one of that is the Omicron variant—we have to be careful. We have to follow the health protocols," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Siguro sabihin niyong killjoy ako (you may say I'm a killjoy but), please don’t engage in unwanted gatherings or even parties at this point in time," he said.
The Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, was found to have 32 mutations from the original virus. Preliminary studies said this was concerning because it might mean it could evade the body's immune response and make it more transmissible.
Although there are no reports of this new variant in the Philippines yet, for Solante, it would be better to be cautious rather than face another surge of infections after the festivities, which would be burdensome for the already strained health workers.
"Baka mabulaga na lang tayo na by January, magsu-surge tayo. That’s something that we don’t like to happen, especially us healthcare workers. Pagod na talaga kami and when we have a surge again, I don’t know what will happen to us," he said.
(We might be surprised that by January, there would be a surge. That's something that we don’t like to happen, especially us healthcare workers. We're really tired and when we have a surge again, I don't know what will happen to us.)