MANILA—Metro Manila, home to some 13 million people, is experiencing a community transmission of the more transmissible COVID-19 omicron variant, a health official said on Saturday.
In a televised public briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said local cases of the variant of concern have already been detected in the capital region.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), community transmission happens when connections between local infections could no longer be established through the positive test results of routine sampling.
An expert last week said omicron's community transmission has been happening in the country.
"Dito po sa National Capital Region, we are seeing the community transmission . . . Nitong omicron variant. Bagamat hindi po nakakahabol ang ating genome sequencing, we already have determined that there are local cases already," Vergeire explained.
(We are already seeing the community transmission of the omicron variant here in the NCR. While our genome sequencing cannot catch up, we already have determined that there are local cases already.)
"Sa nakikita nating trend ngayon, ito po ’yung characteristic talaga ng omicron variant, na mabilis na pagkalat, ’yung very steep rise in the number of cases . . . And doubling time po na every 2 days," she added.
(Based on the trend we are seeing, this is really the characteristic of the omicron variant.)
The daily cases in Metro Manila in the past week also averaged around 17,124, Vergeire said, more than double the 6,500 average number of cases the week before.
The region also has around 149,000 active COVID-19 infections, nearly half of the total number of active cases nationwide.
Other regions, according to the official, are also seeing a rise in new cases, most likely driven by the omicron variant.
Aside from Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol Region are seeing a spike in terms of 2-week growth rate.
There could also be a time that the omicron strain could replace delta as a dominant variant in the country, Vergeire said.
The country saw a spike of COVID-19 infections by the end of December, and record high cases were recorded days after the country emerged from the holidays.
On Friday, the DOH reported over 37,000 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily tally ever.