MANILA (UPDATE) - Local transmission of the omicron variant in the Philippines is "assumed," the Department of Health said Monday as it announced that the country is now classified as "high-risk" for COVID-19.
The country still has to conduct wide whole genome sequencing to confirm the local transmission of the highly transmissible variant, according to Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.
"Based on observation sa ngayon, ang assumption natin na andyan na siya sa community because we have seen the sudden increase in the number of cases," she told reporters.
(Based on current observation, our assumption is it's now in the community because we have seen the sudden increase in the number of cases.)
"Sa ibang bansa, according to our experts, ang pagtaas ng kaso nagdo-double ang numero ng mga kaso every 2 days. Dito po sa Pilipinas, nakikita na po natin ang trend na ganyan. Kaya ang ating assumption ay nakarating na sa ating komunidad ang omicron."
(In other countries, according to our experts, virus cases double every 2 days. We can see that trend here in the Philippines. That's why our assumption is omicron is now in the communities.)
In the previous week, the Philippines' daily virus cases increased by 570 percent to 2,057 from 307, according to DOH data.
Nationwide, COVID-19 bed occupancy rate is at 17.98 percent, while the utilization rate of intensive care units is at 21.71 percent.
14 OMICRON VARIANT CASES
The country has 3 local cases of the variant and 11 imported cases, of which 9 were returning Filipinos and 2 were foreign nationals, according to the spokesperson.
All were either asymptomatic or experienced mild symptoms and have finished their minimum 10-day isolation period. Two cases remain active, Vergeire said.
Three close contacts of the latest 10 cases have been identified, of whom 1 has tested negative and 2 have yet to be retested.
"Lahat po ng local cases natin had been traced, they were located, nakakumpleto ng 10-day isolation as required," she said.
(All our local cases had been traced, and have completed the 10-day isolation as required.)
"If you isolate early, mas mapuputol po natin ang sakit na ito sa ating komunidad (we can cut virus transmission in the community)."
All 37 close contacts of the country's first three omicron cases have tested negative for coronavirus, according to Vergeire.
Three out of 24 close contacts of patient four have tested positive for COVID-19, while 15 were negative and the remaining 6 are being verified, she said.
The details on the contact tracing of other infected patients are still being verified, she added.
Close contacts of suspect or confirmed COVID cases must go on quarantine for 7 days if they are vaccinated, and isolate for 14 days if they are unvaccinated, Vergeire said.