DOH sees community transmission of Omicron in Metro Manila

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
DOH sees community transmission of Omicron in Metro Manila
Passengers present their vaccination cards to personnel upon entry at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) in Tambo, Parañaque City on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. The Department of Transportation has started implementingn a "no vaccination, no ride" policy on public transportation throughout Metro Manila.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health said Saturday that there is community transmission of the highly infectious Omicron variant in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the latest surge in infections in the country that is reaching unprecedented highs.

“We are seeing community transmission of the Omicron variant here in the National Capital Region,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in Filipino over state-run People’s Television.

Community transmission means that an infectious disease has spread extensively in a group of people, so much so that the source of the infection can no longer be traced.

“While our whole genome sequencing is lagging behind, we have already determined that there are local cases,” Vergeire said, adding that current COVID-19 trends in the country are “characteristic” of an Omicron-driven wave.

The Philippines has so far detected 43 cases of the Omicron variant, which is believed to be driving the steep increase in COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile, there are 8,497 cases of the Delta variant in the country.

While whole genome sequencing has been slow, the Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has declared that Omicron is now the dominant variant in the country, outpacing the Delta variant that previously drove a surge in cases beginning in August 2020.

From January 6 to 12, Metro Manila logged 83,649 cases — the highest ever in a week — according to preliminary data from the Department of Health.

The new wave of infections, suspected to be driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant, started out in Metro Manila and is now beginning to spread outside of the capital region, prompting the government’s pandemic task force to tighten coronavirus curbs in most of the country.

But Vergeire said that the DOH is still not seeing the peak of coronavirus cases, even after new infections hit an all-time high on Friday, when health authorities reported 37,207 new cases.

“We are still yet to see the peak which may happen at the end of the month or even later in the second week of February,” she said, adding that active cases may even double by next month.

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