Omicron dominant variant in Philippines: experts

·Contributor
·3 min read
Healthworkers examines each COVID-19 antigen test kits tested in residents of Antipolo City, Philippines on January 17, 2022. Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo revives the Swab Cab, a free antigen testing as the country experiences a COVID-19 surge driven by the Omicron variant. Vice President Robredo's swabbing project was first launch on March 2021 which aims to conduct a mass testing in communities where COVID-19 transmission is very high. As of January 16, 2022, the Philippines logs 37,000 new infections of COVID-19 with total of 3,205, 396. (Photo by Ryan Eduard Benaid/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Healthworkers examines each COVID-19 antigen test kits tested in residents of Antipolo City, Philippines on January 17, 2022. Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo revives the Swab Cab, a free antigen testing as the country experiences a COVID-19 surge driven by the Omicron variant. Vice President Robredo's swabbing project was first launch on March 2021 which aims to conduct a mass testing in communities where COVID-19 transmission is very high. (Photo: Ryan Eduard Benaid/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Philippine Genome Center (PCG) has said that the Omicron variant accounts for almost 100% of the latest sequenced cases, making it the dominant COVID-19 variant in the country.

In a public briefing on Thursday (Jan 27), PGC executive Dr. Cynthia Saloma said that starting the first week of January, almost 100% of sequenced cases in NCR and Calabarzon areas are already Omicron.

“If ever we get Delta in other places, (it’s) very, very rare – one or two, and because of course, they did not send us a lot of samples. But I think it is safe to say that practically all the January samples we’re getting are already Omicron,” Dr. Saloma added.

She also reported that Omicron sub-variant BA.2 has been detected in 12 regions, but it’s possible it already exists in the entire country. She said that some regions weren’t able to send samples either because of problems in transportation or other factors.

Moreover, the executive said that BA.2 is currently the dominant and circulating variant in the country, particularly in local community transmission. In other parts of the world, she said, the sub-variant account for a very small percentage of the cases.

Based on data, Saloma said Stealth Omicron (BA.2) has similar symptoms with BA.1 which are mostly mild.

Saloma said it cannot be known at this time whether any new variant that may emerge would be more transmissible or milder.

On Jan 27, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 600 more detected Omicron cases nationwide. Of the 677 samples sequenced, DOH said that 618 or 91.29% were found to be Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant cases.

DOH said the new cases brought to 1,153 the total number of confirmed Omicron variant cases nationwide. The figure includes five deaths.

According to the Health Department, the 618 Omicron variant cases were composed of 497 local cases and 121 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

Among the 497 local cases, the indicated addresses of the cases were from:

  • NCR (238 cases)

  • Calabarzon (71 cases)

  • Ilocos Region (30 cases)

  • Western Visayas (30 cases)

  • Eastern Visayas (28 cases)

  • Central Luzon (27 cases)

  • Central Visayas (20 cases)

  • Cagayan Valley (19 cases)

  • Cordillera Administrative Region (13 cases)

  • Davao region (10 cases)

  • Soccsksargen (6 cases)

  • Bicol (2 cases)

  • Mimaropa (2 cases)

  • Northern Mindanao (1 case)

Based on the case line list, DOH said that 13 cases are still active while two have died. DOH said 560 cases have been tagged as recovered, while the results of the other 43 is still being verified.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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