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READY FOR OMICRON | City strengthening best practices vs COVID to thwart new threat

Mayor Sara Duterte
Photo by Pilar Braga

AS THE threat of the new variant Omicron looms, the local government will continue to strengthen the initial strategies of its COVID-19 response.

Mayor Sara Duterte bared this during her Special Hours program via 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio on Dec. 6. 

She said, “Naa gihapon ngadto sa strengthening our initial strategies sa response nato because we are not yet out of the pandemic. We are not in the clear. There is a threat of another variant nga posible magdala og dako nga surge of cases (We are strengthening initial strategies in our COVID-19 response because we are not yet off the pandemic. We are not in the clear. There is a threat of another variant that may lead to a surge of cases).”

The mayor was referring to the prevention and enforcement group; the health group, which she said is the bulk of the test, trace, and treatment strategies; and the management of the dead.

Mayor Duterte also said, “Ginapaspasan pud nato in preparation for another surge is katong mga allowed na nga boosters and atoang oxygen plant. And we are also continuously coordinating with SPMC with regard to medicines since ang medicine karon is not for the use of all hospitals but only hospitals that are granted special compassionate use permits (We are also hastening in preparation for another surge is the rollout of boosters and our oxygen plant. And we are also continuously coordinating with SPMC about medicines since the medicine is not yet for the use of all hospitals but only hospitals that are granted with a special compassionate use permit).” 

But she is not certain though if the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) has already been granted the special compassionate use permit. However, she said it is the hospital that they have been in talks with regarding the COVID-19 medicines.

When asked about the possibility of reviving the test-before-travel requirement to Davao City-bound flight passengers, the city’s chief executive said that only the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases provides guidelines for arriving international flights.

Mayor Duterte added, “Whatever it is na guide na ginahatag sa IATF, mao na ang atong ginasunod. If you can remember sa IATF nagahatag po sila og mga guide – yellow list, green list, red list na mga countries. Lain-lain na sya og mga requirements. But we received information that the IATF, whether green, red, or yellow, all international arriving passengers naa na silay test before travel requirement. (Whatever guide given by the IATF, that’s what we follow. If you can remember the IATF provides guidelines for the yellow list, green list, and red list countries. They have different requirements. But we received information that the IATF, whether it’s green, red, or yellow, all international arriving passengers have to comply with the test before travel requirement). That is what we follow.”

The IATF has placed South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique along with Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy under the Red List effective November 28, 2021, until December 15, 2021. This means that those under the Red List countries/jurisdictions/territories shall not be allowed entry to any port in the Philippines.

Returning Filipinos through government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List countries.

Testing and quarantine protocols for all inbound international travelers under the “Yellow” list will have to undergo testing and quarantine protocols in all ports of entry in the country while testing and quarantine protocols for those coming from “Green” countries have been temporarily suspended until December 15, 2021. 

The mandatory test before travel is currently being implemented at the Davao International Airport, where arriving international flight passengers must present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken within 72 hours of the flight schedule.

No such requirement, however, is being implemented for domestic flight passengers.

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