The Omicron variant has taken hold of the Philippines, with 10 confirmed cases in the country as of December 31, 2021.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), University of the Philippines Philippine Genome Center, and the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health, there are currently seven imported cases and three local cases of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant.
The findings of local cases point to the high possibility of local transmission, acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles stated.
Of the three local cases, two originated from the Bicol Region while one was found from the National Capital Region (NCR). The Bicol patients were a 27-year-old female who tested positive on December 14 and a 46-year-old female who tested positive on December 15. The NCR patient was a 42-year-old male who tested positive on December 3. All have since recovered from the virus.
The seven imported cases include six returning overseas Filipinos and one Malaysian national.
Three of the cases arrived from the United States through Philippine Airlines flight numbers PR 103 and PR 127 on December 15 and December 16, respectively. Two more cases arrived from the United Kingdom via the connecting flights of Singapore Airlines flight SQ 910 on December 15 and Emirates Airlines flight EK 332 on December 9. Another one arrived from the United Arab Emirates through Philippine Airlines flight 659 on December 19, while the last case arrived from Ghana through the connecting flight of Qatar Airways flight number QR 930 on December 14.
Contact tracing for the flights have commenced as patients have been advised to update their LGUs regarding their health status.
With the uptick of cases, the DOH has reminded the public to be diligent with following minimum public health standards, testing, isolation and quarantine protocols.
“This holiday season, we continue to remind LGUs to conduct active case finding to identify cases and clusters,” Health Secretary and IATF Chair Francisco Duque III said in a statement. “LGUs should also prepare isolation facilities for individuals who cannot do home quarantine or isolation. Lastly, increase vaccination coverage among the high-risk groups such as senior citizens and those with underlying conditions to reduce hospitalization and deaths due to Covid-19.”