MALASIQUI, Pangasinan - The Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is closely monitoring coastal areas in the province of Pangasinan where foreign vessels pass through amid the threat of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) variant, Omicron.
In a radio interview on Wednesday, Provincial Health Office (PHO) chief, Dr. Anna Ma. Teresa de Guzman, said the crew of foreign vessels might make stop-over in the coastal areas to replenish their logistics, such as food and water.
"We are tightening border control checkpoints particularly to these coastal areas such as Sual town where foreign come and go to unload coal in the power plant, as well as in Infanta and Dasol towns where they pass through," she said.
The implementation of these measures was a result of a meeting with the technical working group of the Provincial IATF on Monday following the report on the presence of Omicron in South Africa.
De Guzman, however, clarified there was still no order from Governor Amado Espino III on the return of Safe, Swift, and Smart Passage (S-PaSS) as a requirement for inbound travelers to Pangasinan.
"What they check at the borders are vaccination cards and government-issued identification cards," she said.
De Guzman said the local task force is hoping that the measures in place in the airports and seaports in the country will be enough to prevent the entry of Omicron in the Philippines and in the province.
"There is a big possibility that the overseas Filipino workers and the balikbayans from countries with active cases of Omicron might bring it to the country but we hope it will be prevented," she added.
De Guzman said the province is striving to further increase the vaccination rate to attain population protection.
"We are averaging at 2,000 to 3,000 vaccines administered daily in connection to the national vaccination days. We are almost at 70 percent for the first dose while the local government units will continue to inoculate as much as possible even after the national vaccination days since the Department of Health has assured us that Pangasinan will have sufficient vaccines for the residents," she said.
She added there was also enough supply of logistics, such as syringes, in line with the immunization ramp-up.
Meanwhile, de Guzman said the Alert Level 2 status of Pangasinan should remain due to the threat of the Omicron variant.
"But of course, it is the National IATF that will decide as they deem appropriate," she said. (PNA)