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DOH detects first 2 cases of Omicron variant

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday reported two imported cases of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant detected from the 48 samples sequenced Tuesday.

In a joint statement with the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) the DOH also reported 33 cases positive for the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant while 13 had no lineage assigned.

The agencies noted that the latest sequencing run was composed of samples from 21 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), a foreigner, and 26 local cases from areas with case clusters.

“The two Omicron variant cases are incoming travelers and are currently isolated in a facility managed by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ),” the DOH said.

One of the cases is an ROF who arrived from Japan on December 1 via Philippine Airlines flight number PR 0427. The sample was collected on December 5.

His positive result was released on December 7 and the case was admitted in an isolation facility on the same date. He is currently asymptomatic but had symptoms of colds and cough upon arrival.

The other case is a Nigerian who arrived on Nov. 30, 2021 via Oman Air with flight number WY 843.

The sample was collected on Dec. 6, 2021 and the result released on Dec. 7, 2021.

He was admitted to an isolation facility on the same date. His current status is also asymptomatic.

In a Viber message to reporters, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the cases were in a quarantine facility since they arrived.

“In the quarantine facility…We have separate facilities for quarantine and isolation. One is fully vaccinated and the other is not vaccinated,” she added.

Currently, the DOH is determining possible close contacts among co-passengers during the flights of these two cases.

“Getting the manifest kami (We’re getting the manifest), we will inform all of you as soon as we have further details,” Vergeire said.

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

It called on the travelers who have arrived in the country through the flights to contact the DOH Covid-19 Hotlines at (02) 8942 6843 or 1555, or their respective LGUs to report their status.

As for the additional 33 Delta variant cases, 14 were ROFs. These bring the total tally of confirmed Delta variant cases to 7,919.

“The 19 local cases were tested in the following regions: three each from Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Caraga, and Soccsksargen, two from Western Visayas, and one each from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Eastern Visayas, and Davao Region,” the DOH said.

With the detection of the imported cases of Omicron variant, the DOH urged the public to adhere to the minimum public standards and properly wear face masks, frequently wash hands with soap and water or alcohol, observe physical distancing, ensure proper ventilation, and avoid crowded areas.

It also urged those unvaccinated to get the life-saving shots during the second leg of the National Vaccination Days from December 15 to 17. (PNA)

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