Community transmission of Omicron variant already happening -- expert | Inquirer News
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Community transmission of Omicron variant already happening — expert

/ 02:15 PM January 08, 2022
Omicron variant

FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines — An infectious disease expert who is also a member of the government’s vaccine expert panel, believes there is already a community transmission of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant.

“Sa situation natin ngayon (Considering our situation now), with the enormous number of people being positive with just a short duration of time and most of them manifesting with upper respiratory tract symptoms, I would say there is already community transmission of Omicron variant,” Dr. Rontgene Solante said at the Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday.

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Solante is chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine unit of the San Lazaro Hospital and is a member of the Department of Science and Technology’s Vaccine Expert Panel.

The Department of Health has yet to formally announce the community transmission of the Omicron variant, but it earlier noted that there’s a high possibility for the “local transmission” of the said variant.

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Based on the World Health Organization’s guidelines, the nature of infections must meet three criteria before community transmission can be declared: There should be a large number of cases not linkable to transmission chains, an observed increase in cases detected through laboratory surveillance, and multiple unrelated clusters in several areas of the country.

Meanwhile, Solante noted that the Omicron variant can be three to five times more transmissible than the Delta variant.

“If we are going to base the ability of Delta to transmit a single interaction, sa isang positive, it can infect five to eight. Now the experts’ opinion here is that because of these heavy mutations, the Omicron variant can be three to five times as highly transmissible as that of Delta,” he explained.

“So ano ang ibig sabihin nyan? You can just imagine. You have to multiply five times three or five times five, then that’s the number of possible contacts na pwede mahawaan with single interaction especially in an enclosed space,” he said.

(What does this mean? You can just imagine. You have to multiply five times three or five times five, then that’s the number of possible contacts who could be infected in a single interaction especially in an enclosed space.)

Solante said this could be the reason behind the several COVID-19 cases in the community and in healthcare facilities.

“That’s why we are seeing a lot of this positive now and not only in the community. We are also seeing a lot of cases in the healthcare facilities and most of the healthcare facilities now, I would say one third to one half of the total healthcare manpower are positive with COVID,” he added.

/MUF

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TAGS: community transmission, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Dr. Rontgene Solante, Omicron, Omicron variant
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