Before sending 2021 off, Filipinos were greeted with a familiar sense of normalcy. The pre-pandemic holidays that everybody missed showed up in the guise of bumper to bumper traffic, over-populated malls and gift shops, and year-end gatherings hosted in different venues. The eased COVID-19 restrictions imposed by local government units (LGUs) paved the way for a holiday that is arguably livelier than the last one.
But if there is one thing that the pandemic has taught all of us, it is to remain aware of the rise and fall of the daily COVID-19 tallies. Less than a month after Metro Manila was put under the “minimal risk” classification, the area is once again deemed as “high risk” after the Department of Health (DOH) recorded higher numbers of infections.
The Health Agency tallied 3,617 Covid-19 cases nationwide on the first day of 2022, up from nearly 3,000 the previous day and more than twelve times the 300 recorded mid-December 2021.
On December 31, 2021, the DOH together with its partner institutions University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center, and the University of the Philippines - National Institutes of Health, announced the discovery of 10 Covid-19 patients carrying the more contagious Omicron variant.
This discovery led to a stricter quarantine alert level for people residing in Metro Manila. According to Acting Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Karlo Nograles, the capital region will be put under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15, 2022.
Under Alert Level 3, intrazonal and interzonal travels are still allowed. However, the activities listed below shall be put on halt:
- Face-to-face classes
- Contact sports
- Funfairs (peryas)
- Live voice/ wind instrument
Limited (30 per cent indoor; 50 per cent outdoor venue capacity)
- Social events
- Tourist attractions
- Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions
- Amusement parks
- Recreational venues
- In-person religious gatherings
- Licensure exams
- Dine-in services
- Personal care services
- Fitness studios; non-contact sports
- Film, music, TV production agencies and instrumentalities of the government (60 per cent on-site capacity)
Major cities across the world are making changes to their travel guidelines and Covid-19-related protocols too. According to an analysis done by the Financial Times, at least five countries—including Australia, Denmark, and the UK—have experienced a surge of Covid-19 before 2021 ended.
If you are baffled with all the information related to the new Omicron strain, here are bits of simplified facts you can equip yourself with: