DOH cites ‘high possibility’ of Omicron variant’s local transmission
MANILA, Philippines — While the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed three local cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant, local transmission of the highly transmissible variant is still not definite but a “high possibility.”
“Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units are currently investigating these local cases and tracing all their possible close contacts. While more definitive data are needed, the epidemiological investigation on the 3 local cases indicates there is a high possibility of local transmission,” the health department said in a statement.
The DOH earlier confirmed three local cases of the Omicron variant—one from Metro Manila and two from Bicol region—and another seven imported cases of the said variant on Friday.
According to Dr. Beverly Ho, Director of the Health Promotion Bureau, local transmission is “when we can categorically establish that there is NO linkage to any of the previous cases, in this case, the imported cases.”
“Epidemiological investigation is still continuing,” Ho told reporters in a Viber message, noting that the DOH will report more details on the local cases during its press briefing on Monday.
The health agency said the first local case of Omicron is a 42-year-old man from Metro Manila who tested positive on December 3 and was tagged as recovered on December 17.
The second local case is a 27-year-old woman from Bicol who tested positive on December 14, while the third local case is a 46-year-old woman from the same region who tested positive on December 15.
All local cases have been tagged as recovered.
The three local cases were announced by the DOH along with seven more imported cases of the Omicron variant.
The number of imported cases of the said variant stands at 11.
Experts say that the Omicron variant has 50 mutations overall, including up to 32 in the spike protein, which suggests its ability to increase transmissibility and impact on the efficacy of vaccines.
The Omicron variant is believed to be four times more transmissible in its early stage than Delta, according to a study by a Japanese scientist who advises the country’s health department.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.