Nov. 29, 2021 6:41 p.m.
WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE). This decision was based on the evidence presented to the TAG-VE that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes. Here is a summary of what is currently known.
Current knowledge about Omicron
Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.
Transmissibility: It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.
Severity of disease: It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants. Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks. All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.
Effectiveness of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection
Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (ie, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited. More information on this will become available in the coming days and weeks.
Effectiveness of vaccines: WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines. Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death.
Effectiveness of current tests: The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.
Effectiveness of current treatments: Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.
At the present time, WHO is coordinating with a large number of researchers around the world to better understand Omicron. Studies currently underway or underway shortly include assessments of transmissibility, severity of infection (including symptoms), performance of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and effectiveness of treatments.
WHO encourages countries to contribute the collection and sharing of hospitalized patient data through the WHO COVID-19 Clinical Data Platform to rapidly describe clinical characteristics and patient outcomes.
More information will emerge in the coming days and weeks. WHO’s TAG-VE will continue to monitor and evaluate the data as it becomes available and assess how mutations in Omicron alter the behaviour of the virus.
Recommended actions for countries
As Omicron has been designated a Variant of Concern, there are several actions WHO recommends countries to undertake, including enhancing surveillance and sequencing of cases; sharing genome sequences on publicly available databases, such as GISAID; reporting initial cases or clusters to WHO; performing field investigations and laboratory assessments to better understand if Omicron has different transmission or disease characteristics, or impacts effectiveness of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics or public health and social measures. More detail in the announcement from 26 November.
Countries should continue to implement the effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 circulation overall, using a risk analysis and science-based approach. They should increase some public health and medical capacities to manage an increase in cases. WHO is providing countries with support and guidance for both readiness and response.
In addition, it is vitally important that inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines are urgently addressed to ensure that vulnerable groups everywhere, including health workers and older persons, receive their first and second doses, alongside equitable access to treatment and diagnostics.
Recommended actions for people
The most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.
WHO will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available, including following meetings of the TAG-VE. In addition, information will be available on WHO’s digital and social media platforms. (From the World Health Organization)
The search is over for the perfect cup of Joe! Experience coffee time at its finest at SM Supermalls this July
July 11, 2023 1:27 p.m.
Filipinos love their coffee! It’s a staple beverage among Pinoys for a reason: a cup of Joe fuels their day and boosts their energy.
This is why SM Supermalls makes everyone’s coffee time a leveled-up experience with only the best deals and promos for the love of a perfect cup of Joe!
Grab the best in-store coffee time deals
From July 1 to 16, coffee lovers can get over 800 deals available on artisan and specialty iced coffee from well-loved coffee shops at SM. There will also be hot bundles and pairings for those who love their coffee piping hot.
Where art, coffee, and locals come together
A consideration among avid coffee drinkers is having the ambiance to the perfect cup and conversation. Look no further because trendy spots are up at SM! Your favorite malls will set up booths where coffee-preneurs can sell their products. Treat your senses to different blends and varieties of coffee made by a pop-up of small and medium businesses owned by the locals in your area. These spots will have comfortable lounges and eye- catching art backdrops.
Baristas will also show off their skills at the Barista Face-Off, while musicians fill the lounge with mellow music on weekends from July 1 to 16.
Let your #CoffeeTok skills shine through
If you are on TikTok, this is your sign to make the most creative content about coffee! AweSM prizes are at stake for the best Coffee Hangout TikTok entries, with the most likes and views.
For details on how to join, go to @SMSupermalls on all social media.
Enjoy an adventurous ride and sip at the same time
Just outside the malls, SM will be dressing up designated areas for a Coffee Time Biker’s Pit Stop. Bike, stop, and sip your fave drink as SM creates a special stop where bikes may be temporarily parked near the café or at the malls with available open areas or al fresco.
Whether it’s a morning pick-me-up or a midday break, SM Supermalls makes coffee time even more special with its own blend of caffeinated activities from July 1 to 16.
To know more about Coffee Time at SM, check out www.smsupermalls.com or follow @SMSupermalls on social media.
Women bartenders on creating cocktails with Tanduay, defying stereotypes, thriving in a male-dominated field
March 29, 5:30 p.m.
As renewed interest in cocktails continue to grow, bartenders are also taking the spotlight, and in El Nido and Siargao, two bartenders are paving the way for women to shine in a male-dominated industry.
Sharleen Antonio works with her husband and fellow bartending professional, Larry Guevara, in one of Palawan’s top beach destinations. Riza Delguime, meanwhile, is a bartender for a leading resort in the country’s surfing haven.
Creating Tanduay-Infused Cocktails
Both women have been bartending for years and share a preference for Tanduay in creating cocktails.
“It’s very easy to mix in cocktails because of its unique and bold character. I usually go for the classic Tanduay Dark Rum in my root beer and rum with a squeeze of fresh lemon,” Antonio said.
She shared that they used Tanduay rums in her bar management class back in college, so she is very familiar with the brand. Collaborating with the brand, she came up with three Tanduay-infused cocktails that are perfect for any time of the year — the Mango Basil Mojito, Tanduay Espresso Martini, and Tanduay Old Fashioned.
Delguime likes Tanduay’s sweet and strong flavor. Foreign customers would usually ask what rum brand she uses in her cocktails and would then request drinks infused with Tanduay rums.
“I have my own signature cocktail, which is perfect when I mix it with Tanduay. We have female guests here in the resort who would request for cocktails that are not too strong, and I would make one for them also using Tanduay,” she said.
Delguime further shared that the bartending scene in Siargao has always been “good and clean.”
“There are different varieties of bars here like sports bars and pool bars, and they are all super busy because of the many tourists who visit our island,” she said.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Antonio shared working in a male-dominated industry wasn’t easy in the beginning. Women bartenders used to be seen as just “cotton candies” behind the bar to attract male clients and rake in tips.
“While I may have experienced some catcalling and received some indecent proposals from male guests in some instances, I have to say that I have been lucky to have always worked with my husband behind the bar. In 2016, we joined Pilipinas Got Talent Season 5 to show that there is more to bartending than meets the eye,” she shared.
Advice for Aspiring Bartenders
Delguime advised aspiring bartenders to just be themselves.
“That would be the key to your success. Bartending is fun, and you get to entertain guests,” she said.
Antonio, meanwhile, has made it her advocacy to educate people about bartending as hospitality and F&B professionals.
“Gone are the days when women were simply considered as bar backs or force multipliers during busy bar shifts. Or worse, simply as ornaments behind the bar,” she noted.
Antonio wants to motivate, inspire, and empower women bartenders and those who would like to start a career in the bartending industry. She and her husband have been conducting workshops and seminars around the country to help aspiring bartenders better their craft.
“It is my wish that female bartenders will continue to flourish and leave their own mark in the field we all so love and are passionate about,” she said.
First in Manila! All immersive experiences lead to SM with its 3D Whale Shark billboard, Space Tunnel, Golden Gateway, dazzling light shows
November 2, 2022 8:43 p.m.
A 3D Whale Shark Billboard, Space Tunnel, Golden Gateway and Dazzling Light shows
take over the Holidays in Manila.
SM Supermalls celebrates not just joyful, but also fun, immersive and experiential holidays.
This year, we take you to the deep oceans with SM Megamall’s first-ever 3D Whale Shark LED billboard, see the Northern lights at the Aurora Trail of SM City North Edsa, Sparkle at the Light show and Holiday fireworks at SM Mall of Asia, enter the Golden gateway of SM Aura Premier and explore the outer space at the Mega Space Odyssey.
NORTH EDSA’S AURORA TRAIL
The illuminating lights of the Aurora Borealis is at the North this Christmas. Walk and indulge in a family friendly immersive experience at the Aurora trail ascending the giant holiday tree with a magical array of lights, forestry, rein-bears & holiday polar express.
MEGA SPACE ODYSSEY & 3D WHALE SHARK
Travel to majestic galaxies in outer space and take photos and videos with your space explorer friends.
Experience the first-ever immersive 3D LED tunnel in Manila on October 21 to December 25 at the ground level Mega Fashion Hall (at the back of the Giant Christmas Tree).
SM Supermalls introduces the new 3D technology along EDSA by screening a hyper-realistic 3D Whale Shark at SM Megamall’s LED billboard.
Bringing you the first in the Philippines, High-Definition Immersive content at the heart of the bustling metropolis.
Netizens are awestruck of a larger-than-life Whale Shark peeking out of a digital billboard spanning over 2,000 square foot.
The Mega Whale Shark was first teased on April 27 but customers, tourists and motorists can catch the short preview every 15 minutes starting April 28 at peak hours from 12nn to 10pm daily.
Watch out for the new 3D content this Christmas.
The Philippines has the 2nd largest population of whale shark in the world at over 1,950.
MOA SPARKLE OF LIGHT SHOW AND HOLIDAY FIREWORKS
Feel the Christmas spirit as you watch the brightest and merriest indoor Christmas tree music and lights show.
Be in awe as you watch over one hundred thousand lights set to music.
Catch the show DAILY, every hour from 10am to 10pm until end of December at the Central Atrium.
Enjoy the most awaited and better than ever fireworks display at the MOA Complex every Friday and Saturday from November to December 2022. Make sure to experience this magical moment with your families and loved ones.
AURA’s GOLDEN GATEWAY and NIGHTS OF DAZZLING LIGHTS
Tucked behind the giant Christmas tree is a golden gemstone-shaped immersive experience.
In partnership with global smartphone brand TECNO Mobile, technology and art meet to transport all who enter this enclosure into scenes of an opulent holiday palace and fantastical golden worlds.
Simply present P1,000 in single or collected receipts and enter a whole new world filled with glitz and glamour.
The theatrical room isn’t the only technological experience the mall has. Equally spectacular is a choreographed light and sound display at SM Aura Premier’s Skypark at Level 5.
Visitors of the Skypark enter a space with tall tree-like sculptures made of strings of lights. As they go through a forest of lights, a jaw-dropping musical show will entrance and excite them.
Visitors can stop and enjoy the choreographed audio and visual performance at 7pm on all Sunday nights of December, including December 25th itself.