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New year, same challenges

Despite the restrictions and apprehensions caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, celebrations and gatherings ushered in the year 2022 as people from the Philippines and most of the world felt the need to make up for time lost due to the pandemic.

Although some countries like the Netherlands opted to take the safe route and impose a lockdown during the holidays, most countries left it up to their people to celebrate the holidays as safely as they can and in the case of the Philippines, where the number of COVID-19 cases has been on a steady upward trend throughout the merry month of December, Filipinos may have to brace for a new surge as we welcome the new year.

As we begin the new year, let us pause to take stock of what we have achieved in the previous year and prepare to face the challenges that are to be expected. While the people of the Philippines were finally able to beat back the COVID-19 pandemic as the 2021 ended, the combination of the more infectious Omicron variant and our holiday merrymaking will most likely result in us starting the new year on the back foot when it comes to our war against the coronavirus and the road to economic recovery.

In the National Capital Region, the alert level status has already been raised to 3 due to the worrying spike in COVID-19 infections. If we want to enjoy the looser restrictions that made the holidays so much more enjoyable that the previous year, we will have to do all we can to cooperate and collectively bring down alert levels, hopefully, permanently this time around after having learned our lessons.

Despite a start the seems like a step backward as a consequence of lowering our guard at the end of the year, 2022 can still be better if we learn our lessons from 2021 and do better. If we treat Omicron as seriously as we did Delta, and hope the holiday break activities purged our system of the urge to gather and party, maybe we can beat back COVID faster and then mount a more serious, safer and sustained recovery plan that can make this year much better than the last.

We are starting the new year with the same challenges but hopefully, this time we face it with the knowledge, experience and discipline needed to surmount those difficulties faster so we can focus and look forward to making this year better and recovery that we have been dreaming of a reality.*

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