WHO advises PH not to limit watch on nations without detected case of Omicron variant
MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization on Tuesday advised the Philippine government also keep its eyes peeled even on countries that have detected an Omicron COVID-19 variant case, saying some nations may just not have the sequencing capacity to detect COVID-19 cases.
During the Laging Handa briefing, WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe at the same time called on Philippines authorities to conduct whole genome sequencing of returning Filipinos or foreigners coming in.
“I would go to say that we should not be looking for Omicron only in countries that have confirmed the virus for now because there are many countries that the virus may be there, the variant may be there, but have no capacity for sequencing,” Abeyasinghe pointed out.
“So, any returning overseas Filipinos or foreigners coming in who test positive, I think we need to do whole genome sequencing now and what is important from our genome sequencing perspective is because of the recent detection of the variant, we need to rapidly do genome sequencing of the most recent arrivals,” he said.
The official recommended concentrating the sequencing of samples to people who recently tested positive in the country’s entry points.
“Right now, I think the importance is to focus on those samples of people who detected positive in points of entry for recent arrivals during the last 10 days or two weeks because the likelihood of detecting Omicron virus will be higher if we do whole genome sequencing in these as a priority rather than doing whole genome sequencing on all the cases,” he explained.
Currently, inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy were banned until December 15 to delay the entry of the Omicron variant.
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