Omicron likely causing spike in COVID-19 infections: OCTA

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2022 07:19 PM

Motorcycle riders from different delivery and ride-hailing apps line up for the booster shot vaccination at the Kartilya ng Katipunan beside the Manila City Hall on January 6, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Motorcycle riders from different delivery and ride-hailing apps line up for the booster shot vaccination at the Kartilya ng Katipunan beside the Manila City Hall on January 6, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The sharp rise in COVID cases in the country is “most likely” due to the Omicron variant, according to an independent research group.

OCTA Research Fellow Guido David said this was evident in the genome sequencing data.

“Sa latest genome sequencing na isinagawa ng Philippine Genome Center.. 60 percent ng mga sample test nila ay omicron, as of Jan 2. 
Most likely ngayon mas marami na,” Guido said.

(In the latest genome sequencing by the Philippine Genome Center, 60 percent of their samples tested were omicron as of Jan. 2. Most likely this number has risen further.)

Guido added that international travelers who broke quarantine may have caused the local spread.

While there is no guarantee how the virus would pan out, David said he hopes that the omicron variant would be the last, and the Philippines would experience a 1- 1.5 month surge just like in South Africa.

On Sunday, an additional 2.7 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrived from the COVAX Facility donated by the US government, raising the total number of delivered COVD-19 vaccines to 213.4 million.

ALERT LEVEL 4?

David meanwhile said he believes that while raising Alert Level 4 can help curb the infection rate, there is no guarantee that it could work.

“Ang sabi nga sa ibang bansa, sa UK parang inevitable na ito eh. Karamihan ng tao mahahawaan dahil sa sobrang bilis ng pagkalat ng virus. 

(What was said in other countries, in the UK, this was likely inevitable. Most people will get infected because of the speed of transmission of the virus.)

Instead, he said there must be a “paradigm shift” with the way government views lockdowns, according to David since unlike before— more people are vaccinated now, and there are more vaccines.

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño meanwhile said he does not favor raising the alert level.

“Tama lang ang sinasabi ng presidente na paandarin ang ekonomya pero i-maximize ang pagpapabakuna, nakita natin na ito ang effective. At ang mga bakuna may expiration yan,” Diño said, urging those who are unvaccinated to get jabbed.

(What the President said is correct, that we keep the economy open but maximize the vaccination. We have seen that this is effective. And vaccines have an expiration date.)

Guido meanwhile said omicron must not be taken lightly as it can still strain the healthcare system. 

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