1st Omicron patient reported in South Cotabato
GENERAL SANTOS CITY–Health authorities in South Cotabato reported Tuesday the province’s first patient with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, although the patient has recovered.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato health officer, said the 15-year-old male patient from Polomolok town tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 2, based on the results of his reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
He said the boy took the RT-PCR test as a requirement for travel. He was immediately quarantined after the positive result.
His samples qualified for genome sequencing based on the biosurveillance parameters, specifically its low cycle threshold or CT value.
Aturdido said the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) received the official report on Monday from the Department of Health-Region 12 based on the genome sequencing results released by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center.
He said the rural health unit of Polomolok tracked and monitored all close contacts of the patient.
“This is already more than a month. The case is now closed, and the individual has recovered,” he said in a virtual press briefing.
The official said they were continually monitoring the situation in the province and waiting for the release of the sequencing results of other probable patients, specifically of the Omicron variant.
But citing their assessment, he said the first confirmed Omicron case could not have caused any more infections since the province did not experience a surge last December.
He said the increasing number of new cases in the province in the last two weeks is possibly due to uncontrolled gatherings during the Christmas season.
The province’s 10 towns and lone city were placed under Alert Level 2 in late October last year due to the declining daily new cases, but the national Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases upgraded the area’s status to Alert Level 3 effective Jan. 16.
A total of 230 COVID-19 cases, with 219 active, were detected from Jan. 1 to 17 in the province, a significant increase from 121 in December.
John Lemuel Dalisay, IPHO statistician, said from Jan. 10 to 16, they recorded 10 or more cases in the last 14 days and a total of 100.
“Our case reproduction rate is now nearly two from about one last month, so that means the disease transmission is quite high. On average, an infected person can transmit to two other people,” he said.
Dalisay said they were closely monitoring if the reproduction rate would further increase.
As of Monday night, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province since March 2020 have reached 18,741, with 741 confirmed deaths and 17,781 recoveries.
The Omicron case in South Cotabato was among the two reported Monday by DOH-Region 12 director Dr. Aristides Tan.
The other patient is an overseas Filipino worker from Glan, Sarangani province, now undergoing quarantine in Pampanga.
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