The Department of Health (DOH
) has recently recorded its first two cases of the Omicron
variant last December 15; despite it, the Philippines is generally still under Alert Level 2, effective December 16 until December 31. These two recent cases were immediately isolated in a quarantine facility under the supervision of the Bureau of Quarantine. The two cases were returning overseas Filipino from Japan and a Nigerian national who landed last November 30.  As of writing, another case of the Omicron virus was detected, bringing 3 cases in the country.
Experts say that the Omicron variant is still not known to cause a more or lesser severe impact compared to other existing coronavirus variants. However, DOH is still emphatic that everyone should observe public health
protocols, especially wearing masks and proper disinfecting. The DOH will also strengthen their response in border control, cases detection, vaccination
, and public safety protocols. 
According to the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant is highly divergent, with also a high number of mutations. The variant may be associated with immune escape potential and probably more transmissibility. 
Based on recent evidence, the Omicron variant appears to grow more than the Delta variant. The threat of the Omicron depends on the gravity of its transmission, the extent of vaccine protection against infection, and how fatal it is compared to other co-existing variants.
Mitigating the new Omicron variant
The Philippine government has recently implemented a travel ban to prevent the entry of areas at high risk, regardless of vaccination status, effective until December 31. The countries tagged under the red list classification include Andorra, France, Monaco, Northern Mariana Islands, Reunion, San Marino, South Africa, and Switzerland.  Filipino residents who the national government is repatriating can only enter the country.
Aside from regulating the entry of foreigners into the country, the National Task Force against COVID-19 (NTF) is continually urging the public to protect themselves from the Omicron variant by getting booster shots. Strategic Communications on Current Operations Head Assistant Secretary Wilben Mayor said to be protected from the Omicron variant; everyone is persuaded to get primary booster shots. 
With this, further vaccination to reach herd immunity is still being pushed, and public health is further secured once everyone starts to avail of booster shots
. The effectiveness of vaccination has been proven since active cases here in the country have continued to decline, which is a significant observation, especially after the surge of the Delta variant. With this, heightened health protocols
are pushed since it is found that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant.
This December, the Philippines is set to receive 33 million more vaccines, summing up to a total of 67 million doses. 
Visit Yoorekka Magazine for more travel and COVID-19 updates and guidelines in Palawan!
All details and information in this article are true and accurate as of the publication date. However, while we are making our utmost effort to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the condition surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be unpredictable, and the situation develops rapidly. Hence, some information and recommendations may have changed since this article was published. For the latest advice, visit DOH and your LGU's official websites.
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