Omicron poses ‘high risk’, PH expands red list countries – WHO


The World Health Organization said that the Covid19 Omicron variant has a “very high risk globally”, possibly due to the high number of mutations on the spike proteins.

These mutations may be linked to “immune escape and higher transmissibility” and may cause future surges resulting in “severe consequences.” Earlier, the health body has tagged Omicron as a ‘variant of concern.’

In line with this, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) expanded the Philippines’ red-list countries to include seven more.

Joining South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique on the red list are: Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy.

The list will be updated after Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, Filipinos coming home by way of government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan flights will be admitted provided they submit to entry, testing and quarantine protocols for red-list nations or territories.

Passengers in transit and those coming from red list countries within 14 days directly before arriving in the Philippines, and who have arrived before 12:01 a.m. of Nov. 30 were not subject to restrictions.

The nation’s flag carrier Philippine Airlines also tweaked their guidelines for inbound international travelers.

Those from green list countries are now subject to the same quarantine protocols as those in yellow list nations. Additionally, those coming from Hong Kong will follow yellow list country protocols as well.

Earlier, the Philippines imposed restrictions on travelers coming from countries that have reported cases of the new strain. The ban will be in effect from Dec. 30 to Jan. 15.

Among the countries and territories upon which the travel ban was imposed are the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

In related news, Metro Manila is still under Alert Level 2 despite the newest variant’s threat.

The same applies to areas in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, Caraga and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

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