CATARMAN, Northern Samar–The Northern Samar Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (PIATF) is considering a policy that bans unvaccinated individuals from entering government offices and commercial establishments, as the threat of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading in the province is becoming imminent.
This was among the many recommendations finalized as the Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA) Core Group discussed how to implement existing COVID-prevention policies, how to get the people vaccinated, and how to prevent Omicron from entering the province, during their meeting held today, January 6, 2022, at the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
PDRRM Officer Rei Josiah Echano called for the PDRA among provincial health officers and law enforcement officials as Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon were placed under Alert Level 3 amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases and the detection of the Omicron variant.
This is also the first day in 2022 wherein the Northern Samar recorded new active COVID-19 cases.
According to Dr. Rommel Francisco, Provincial DOH Officer, there were zero active cases in the province from December 31, 2021, to January 5, 2022. However, he warned of a surge of positive cases in the coming days.
“Tataas ang number of cases in the following weeks after the holidays,” Dr. Francisco said. “Whether it is Delta, Omicron, or any other variant, we have to follow minimum public health standards.”
Per data released by DOH Eastern Visayas today, there are 9 new COVID-19 cases in Northern Samar. As some of these COVID-19 patients are currently admitted at the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital, Dr. Ninfa Kam, Provincial Health Officer, shared that those who were vaccinated are not experiencing severe symptoms.
“This is an affirmation that the vaccine can really prevent us from having the severe disease. And when we have no severe cases, there is less burden on our hospitals, health workers, and resources,” Dr. Kam stated.
Unfortunately, both health officials were saddened that there is still a large number of Nortehanons who are not vaccinated. Dr. Francisco confirmed that Northern Samar has the lowest vaccination coverage at 59.8% among provinces in Region 8. This is despite several studies proving that COVID 19-vaccines are effective and can reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
As to the entry of travelers from Luzon, through Matnog, Sorsogon, the body has decided to recommend that all entering Northern Samar must either be vaccinated or must have undergone Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RTPCR) within 24 hours and 48 hours, respectively.
The PDRA core group is expected to meet with local chief executives in less than a week to discuss their recommendations. (maa/jab/nspio)