MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday, December 31, that there is already a “high possibility” of local transmission of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the Philippines.
According to the DOH, there were 10 more Omicron cases detected in the Philippines on Friday – three of which are local cases.
“The epidemiological investigation on the three local cases indicates there is high possibility of local transmission,” the health department said in a statement.
The first local case is a 42-year-old male from Metro Manila. The second local case is a 27-year-old female, while the third local case is a 46-year-old male, both of whom are from Bicol. All of them have recovered.
The DOH said regional epidemiology and surveillance units are still investigating the local cases and those they were exposed to.
Dr. Beverly Ho, director of the DOH’s Health Promotion Bureau, explained that “local transmission is when we can categorically establish that there is no linkage to any of the previous cases, in this case the imported cases.”
As of Friday, the Philippines has detected a total of 14 Omicron cases.
Reminders on health protocols
Following the detection of the three local Omicron cases, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced on Friday that Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to 15 – cutting short Alert Level 2 in the region.
The DOH urged the public to continue following minimum public health standards and to get vaccinated or get their booster shots.
“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,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.
Duque also asked local governments to continue finding cases and identifying clusters within their jurisdictions. “Implement granular lockdowns as needed,” he added.
In a separate statement, the DOH said vaccinated people and those who have already received booster shots can still be infected by the Omicron variant, but these cases are mostly mild or asymptomatic.
On Friday, the Philippines logged 2,961 new coronavirus cases, the highest in two months.
Other countries like the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Australia have registered record numbers of new cases as the Omicron variant continues to spread. – Rappler.com