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HIGH POSITIVITY RATE | Omicron variant suspected as cause of COVID-19 surge

THE region on Saturday breached again the 1,000-mark in new COVID-19 cases, the fourth consecutive day since the start of the year.

This developed as the city reported a very high positivity rate, a top city health official bared last week.

Dr. Michelle Schlosser, City COVID-19 spokesperson, said on Friday that the COVID-19 positivity rate at that point was at 48.34%  as the surge has continued.

“Nikabat na gyud ta og 1,000 sobra two days in a row (on Thursday). By far, the highest ang 48.34 percent na positivity rate nato,” Schlosser said.

She said the COVID-19 Task Force of the city has been waiting for the projection as when the surge is expected to slow down. “Kung unsa kadugay ang surge, kung mubaba na so that the public will know but these are only predictions,” she added.

On Thursday, Dr. Rachel Joy Pasion, head of the DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, theorized that the fast spread of the virus may have been caused by the Omicron variant after the region reported five cases of the variant which were found in the last part of last month.

“If there is a big jump in our cases, we can attribute this to Omicron and because there were local cases detected of Omicron, we can assume that maybe there are really Omicron variant cases,” she said.

However, Pasion said that still, the main variant of concern in the region has been Delta, considered the most potent among the variants.

Even then, Pasion said that taking into account the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the possibility that it has dominated the number of cases in the region is possible. 

On Saturday, the region registered 1,665 new cases; on Friday it was 1,923 new cases, the highest among the three days and the highest since March 2020; 1,453 on Thursday and 1,428 on Wednesday. Based on the report, the number of active cases as of Saturday was at 9,276.

The increase in cases has also affected several offices, among them the DOH regional office which stopped its operations for a week starting Friday so that it can disinfect. The office, however, did not mention how many of its personnel were infected.

All specimens from the region are still being sent to the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center as well as other laboratories capable of analyzing these samples as the genome center at the University of the Philippines in Mindanao has yet to start its operations which is tentatively scheduled next month.

This developed as the DOH regional office also agreed with Mayor Sara Duterte that there is a need to balance policies in relation to the impact in the spread of the illness with that of the economy.

Just like the mayor, Pasion also pointed out that the national government has been implementing stringent measures for those international travelers, either returning or visitors, the need to balance the action of local government is necessary.

“We are into three years now in our combat against COVID-19 and we should take into account our resources. We should consider the cost effectiveness of our action basing on the different protocols that we are implementing,” Pasion explained.  

Pasion also agreed with the mayor that since most of the people of the region have been vaccinated against the virus and this has provided the people with a shield against the virus and in case the dominant variant was Omicron, then those infected will only experience milder symptoms.

The mayor has maintained that the city government will not require those who want to enter the city to present both their vaccination cards and negative COVID-19 test results.

She pointed out that aside from being the burden of incoming visitors, either residents or those who are just visiting, these requirements will just impact on the economic recovery of the city as these do not assure that the virus will not spread considering its incubation period.

Duterte also pointed out that aside from the vaccination rollout, there are already cure for the virus, although this is not yet commercially available. The city government is still waiting for the shipment of medicines against the virus after it placed an order with a foreign company which has sought an approval of its emergency use utilization application from the Philippine government.

 

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