10 more Omicron variant cases confirmed

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

December 31, 2021, 9:13 pm

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH), University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center, and the University of the Philippines - National Institutes of Health on Friday reported the detection of seven imported cases and three local cases of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of concern.

The seven imported cases include six returning overseas Filipinos and one Malaysian national.

Three of them arrived from the United States via Philippine Airlines Flight PR 127 on December 16 and PR 103 on December 15.

Two arrived from the United Kingdom via connecting flights of Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 910 on December 15 and Emirates Airlines flight EK 332 on December 9.

Another case arrived from the United Arab Emirates through Philippine Airlines Flight 659 on December 19 and the seventh imported case came from Ghana through the connecting flight of Qatar Airways Flight QR 930 on December 14.

The husband of the fourth Omicron case previously announced is among the seven cases.

All other details are being verified.

The DOH is currently verifying the test results and health status of all co-passengers to determine if there are other confirmed cases or passengers who became symptomatic after arrival.

Travelers who have arrived in the Philippines through these flights may opt to call the DOH COVID-19 hotlines (02) 8942-6843 or 1555, or their local government units (LGUs) to report their status.

Two of the three local Omicron cases are from the Bicol Region while the other is from the National Capital Region (NCR), a 42-year-old male who tested positive on December 3 and was tagged as recovered on December 17.

The two Bicol Region cases have already recovered, too, -- a 27-year-old female who tested positive on December 14 and a 46-year-old female.

Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units are currently investigating the local cases and tracing all their possible close contacts.

The DOH said that while more definitive data is needed, there is a high possibility of local transmission.

More details will be announced during the regular DOH Media Forum on Monday.

With the detection of local cases of Omicron, the DOH sternly warns the public against disregarding minimum public health standards, and testing, isolation or quarantine protocols.

“This holiday season, we continue to remind LGUs to conduct active case finding to identify cases and clusters. They may also implement granular lockdowns as needed. LGUs should also prepare isolation facilities for individuals who cannot do home quarantine or isolation. Lastly, increase vaccination coverage among the high-risk groups such as senior citizens and those with underlying conditions to reduce hospitalization and deaths due to Covid-19,” Health Secretary and IATF Chair Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

“We also have to keep our healthcare utilization at a manageable level. We can do this by working together to prevent the transmission of Covid-19. All eligible individuals should get vaccinated or boosted as soon as possible. We can also use surgical masks, double masks, or complementing cloth masks with a face shield. We urge those who are showing symptoms of Covid-19 to isolate, get tested, and finish the prescribed duration. Lastly, if we can, let us do home isolation supported by regular teleconsultation,” Duque stated further. (PR)