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DOH still unsure on local transmission of Omicron variant

/ 06:20 PM January 08, 2022
DOH Omicron

People line up to avail of the free COVID-19 test at the OVP’s Swab Cab project on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, at Tandang Sora Avenue corner Visayas Avenue Extension in Quezon City. OVP Photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday there is still no certainty on the local transmission of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau is analyzing if the local cases of Omicron variant in the country are connected to the imported cases. At present, the health agency has confirmed 43 cases of the Omicron variant, including 21 local cases.

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“Well mayroon na tayong local cases na naiulat. Tinitingnan na lamang kung ito ba ay may ugnay pa sa imported cases, kasi kung itong mga local cases na kasalukuyang sinusuri ng epidemiology bureau, kung hindi na nila maiugnay ito, ibig sabihin local transmission na ‘yan,” he said in an interview with DZBB.

Asked categorically if there is no certainty yet on the presence of local transmission of Omicron, Duque said: “Walang (There is no) certainty but it does not matter, because what matters is let us all assume there is already Omicron.”

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Duque said the DOH is assuming that there are many cases of the Omicron variant in the country already, given that new COVID-19 cases double every two days.

“Every one to two days, nagdodoble. So ngayon, ang assumption natin ay marami nang Omicron dito dahil sa katangian ng bilis dumami ng mga kaso,” he added.

(Cases double every one to two days. So our assumption now is there are many Omicron variant cases already because of the nature of the increase in cases.)

The Philippines reported on Saturday an all-time high increase of 26,458 new coronavirus infections. Active cases now stood at 102,017.

The DOH previously said there is a “high possibility” of the local transmission of the Omicron variant but noted that “more definitive data” is needed.

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.”

Meanwhile, infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante believes that there is already a “community transmission” of the Omicron variant.

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.

/MUF

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Francisco Duque, Omicron, Omicron variant
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