DOH confirms community transmission of Omicron variant in Metro Manila
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Saturday the community transmission of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Metro Manila.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while genome sequencing efforts could not keep up with the spike in cases, the DOH has already determined that there are already local cases of Omicron and that the trend of infections show the characteristics of the said variant.
“Dito sa National Capital Region, we are seeing community transmission dito sa NCR ng Omicron variant. Bagama’t hindi nakakahabol ang ating whole genome sequencing, we already have determined that there are local cases already,” Vergeire said at the Laging Handa public briefing.
(We are seeing community transmission of the Omicron variant here in Metro Manila. Even though the whole genome sequencing could not keep up, we have already determined that there are local cases of the said variant.)
“Sa nakikita nating trend ngayon, ito po ang characteristic talaga ng Omicron variant, ‘yung mabilis na pagkalat, ‘yung very steep rise in the number of cases, ‘yung doubling time na every two days na napakabilis, ito po lahat ay characteristics ng Omicron variant,” she added.
(Based on the trend we are seeing, these are really the characteristics of the Omicron variant: the fast spread, steep rise in the number of cases, and doubling time of two days.)
The DOH previously said it was only “assuming” that Omicron is already in the communities, noting that it still needs definitive evidence before formally declaring an Omicron-driven community transmission.
Based on guidelines from the World Health Organization, 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, Vergeire said that COVID-19 cases are also increasing in other regions outside Metro Manila.
She said that if the trend of cases continues, Omicron may replace Delta as the most dominant variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the country.
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