BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The Emergency Operations Center-Task Force of Bacolod City is intensifying its vaccination drive to prevent the spread of the Omicron BA 2.12 subvariant and the possible surge of COVID-19 cases after the May 9 elections.
Dr. Chris Sorongon, EOC-TF deputy for medical, data analysis and management, said the country’s first case of BA 2.12 Omicron subvariant involved a fully vaccinated female Finnish citizen who arrived in the Philippines on April 2 for a series of lectures in Quezon City and Baguio.
Sorongon said she entered the country undetected since fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to undergo isolation. She became symptomatic when she got to Bagiuo and her genome sequencing result later showed that she had acquired BA 2.12, which is more contagious and was identified in Europe and the US to be causing new wave of COVID-19 cases.
So, vaccination and minimum health protocols are still essential in order to prevent the further spread of the virus, he said.
Sorongon, on the other hand, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque and the spokesperson of the Department of Health (DOH) are anticipating a surge in COVID-19 cases after the May 9 elections. So, he is encouraging the public to get vaccinated and to receive booster shots since these are free, as well as voluntary.
He said they have not received any guidelines that unvaccinated citizens should not be allowed to cast their vote on May 9. But those who are COVID-19 positive should not vote as they might pose a risk to others based on the Omnibus guidelines of the Comelec. If a voter is detected to have fever, he or she will be made to vote in an isolation area in the polling place.
Meanwhile, Sorongon said the local government still requires travelers to secure the safe, swift and smart passage (S-Pass) and vaccination card while unvaccinated individuals entering the city are required to submit rapid anti test result or negative RT-CPR test result to prevent the entry of BA 2.12.
As of April 29, about 135 percent of the target population in Bacolod City are fully vaccinated while only 10 percent of them have received booster shots, he said.
Sorongon is reminding the public to always observe minimum health protocols like the wearing of face mask “until such time that we are declared pandemic free. We should also treat every person we come into contact with as COVID-19 positive so we will practice minimum health protocols at all times.”*