Be careful, but don’t panic; let’s celebrate Christmas – OCTA fellow on Omicron threat

Be careful, but don’t panic; let’s celebrate Christmas – OCTA fellow on Omicron threat

MANILA, Philippines — The public has to be careful in the face of the threat posed by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, but there’s no need to panic, an OCTA Research fellow, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco Jr., said during the weekly “Talk to the People” of President Rodrigo Duterte that aired late Monday night.

According to Austriaco, a Catholic priest who’s also a molecular biologist, said that current numbers of the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines are “some of the best numbers in the world.”

“First, there is no need to panic. Let us celebrate Pasko (Christmas). This is the best time in 20 months for the entire country,” Austriaco said.

“I say we have 500 cases yesterday compared to 120,000 [there]. The positivity rate is less than 2 percent. This is some of the best numbers in the world. And so this is not the time to panic. It is the time to be careful, we have to prepare, but we also have to celebrate especially since this is Christmas,” he added.

Despite this, Austriaco said that the country has to prepare the hospital infrastructure and increase health care worker staffing capacity, noting that the surges from the Alpha and Delta variants showed that the country had nursing shortages, especially in Metro Manila.

“We have to continue to vaccinate to boost our kababayans to build and maintain population immunity,” Austriaco said.

On Monday, the Department of Health reported 543 new COVID-19 cases and 830 more recoveries, bringing the total active cases down to 13,548.

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