COVID-19

Cagayan de Oro sees COVID-19 spreading at ‘very alarming’ speed

Froilan Gallardo
Cagayan de Oro sees COVID-19 spreading at ‘very alarming’ speed

VITAL SIGNS. Cagayan de Oro public health front-line workers check on the vital signs of a resident before she is given a COVID-19 vaccine dose.

courtesy of Aicy Soriano, Cagayan de Oro City Information Office

'I have never seen so much spike in the two years of the pandemic,' says Dr. Gina Itchon, head for research and development of the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – COVID-19 is spreading in the city at a rate much faster than it did since the start of the global pandemic, and officials could only theorize that it’s the Omicron variant that’s causing the surge.

The number of new single-day cases in Cagayan de Oro more than doubled in just five days. From 159 on January 15, the cases in the city climbed to 279 on Thursday, January 20.

“The surge of COVID-19 cases is very alarming. I have never seen so much spike in the two years of the pandemic,” said Dr. Gina Itchon, head for research and development of the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC).

Itchon said she was worried that the number of cases in the city would still shoot up next week.

“This is not Delta. This is Omicron already. The infections are spreading so fast,” Itchon said.

Itchon said they just sent specimens to the Philippine Genome Center to validate their suspicion that the more transmissible Omicron variant was causing the new wave of COVID-19 infections in the city.

The Department of Health’s Regional Epidemiology Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit logged 275 new COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro as of 7 pm on Thursday, an increase of more than 100% compared to the number of infections it documented last Saturday, January 15.

Cagayan de Oro has so far recorded eight COVID-19-related deaths since January 17, the first time the city lost a resident to the virus in 2022.

Four of those who died were unvaccinated while the other four had comorbidities, health officials said.

One of the newly infected is Cagayan de Oro health office medical officer Dr. Teodoro Yu Jr., a prominent figure in the city hall’s campaign to curb COVID-19 transmissions.

Yu went into isolation after he tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, January 18.

Itchon cautioned residents against underestimating the Omicron variant despite data that showed most of those who contracted it only had milder symptoms.

She said the highly transmissible variant posed serious threats, especially for the unvaccinated and those with comorbidities.

Itchon said that of the 90 COVID-19 patients now confined at the NMMC, 90% were found to be unvaccinated.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said data showed that Omicron’s effects were less severe on those who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

“That is the silver lining in this surge. Most of those infected have mild cases,” Moreno said. – Rappler.com

Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship