Pangasinan confirms 4 Omicron variant cases

Ahikam Pasion
Pangasinan confirms 4 Omicron variant cases

JAB. A Dagupan City resident gets her COVID-19 vaccine shot.

Dagupan City information office

Around half of the province's 1,706 active cases are asymptomatic and 20% show only mild symptoms, with majority of hospital admissions unvaccinated persons

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – The Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Pangasinan said on Tuesday, January 18, that the province has four confirmed COVID-19 Omicron variant cases.

Provincial health officer Dr. Anna de Guzman told the Philippine Information Agency’s Pantongtongan Tayo, Pangasinan’s web talk, that all four patients have fully recovered.

De Guzman said test results from the Philippine Genome Center only confirmed that the surge of cases in January 2022 stemmed from Omicron, a more infectious variant of the COVID-19 virus.

The confirmed cases are from the towns of Mangatarem and Santo Tomas, Urdaneta City, and this city.

“Even without the advisory from the DOH pertaining to the four Omicron cases, ‘yung (the) sudden surge sometime in the first two weeks [of January] was community transmission of Omicron,” said De Guzman.

The Philippines loosened restrictions over the long Christmas season following a drop in COVID-19 cases in November.

With more relaxed border controls, travelers from the National Capital Region (NCR) and other provinces were able to visit Pangasinan to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

The PHO said the province had 1,706 active cases as of January 17, with around half asymptomatic and under home isolation.

“Some 20% are mild cases, some in the hospital but others also under home isolation,” De Guzman said in a mix of Filipino and English.

While the surge in infections is alarming, the province has recorded only a small number of severe cases, De Guzman said, without giving figures.

She said no critical case has been recorded as of January 18.

De Guzman urged residents to get vaccinated, saying talks with hospital managers in the province showed that  60% to 70% of admitted cases are unvaccinated. 

The PHO on January 17 said 1.6 million persons in Pangasinan are fully vaccinated, representing 77% of its 2.1-million target population (including children from 12 to 17 years old). Close to 100,000 individuals have received booster shots.

“The more we can cover the populace, the more we can prevent COVID-19 infections,” said De Guzman.

The province earlier said it wants to cover 70% of its 3.16-million total population by the end of January 2022. –

Ahikam Pasion is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.