MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Two people have died after contracting the omicron COVID-19 variant, both of whom are among 492 additional cases of the lineage recorded in the Philippines, the Department of Health said Wednesday.
The two were "aged more than 60 years, unvaccinated, and had pre-existing medical conditions," the DOH said.
"While Omicron mostly presents with asymptomatic and mild disease, our data shows that those most at risk for fatalities are still the elderly and those with co-morbidities and unvaccinated," it said.
The 492 newly confirmed omicron cases, found in 160 returning overseas Filipinos and 332 local infections, bring the country's total of the highly transmissible variant to 535, the DOH said. The latest whole genome sequencing was conducted Jan. 13 and 14.
From the additional batch, three cases remain active while 467 have recovered, the DOH said in a statement. The status of the remaining 20 cases are still being verified.
Majority or 227 of the new local cases were from Metro Manila; followed by Calabarzon with 76 cases; Central Luzon with 11; Central Visayas with 5; two each from Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Davao Region, Soccksargen, and the Cordilleras; and 1 each from Ilocos region, Mimaropa, and the Bangsamoro.
The omicron, first detected in South Africa, is reportedly much more contagious than previous strains but seems to cause less serious disease. The Philippines confirmed its first cases of the variant in mid-December.
MORE DELTA CASES
Meanwhile, the latest genome sequencing also found 115 more delta variant cases, of which 88 were local and 27 were returning Filipinos, the DOH said. The new figure brings the total number of detected delta variant cases in the country to 8,612.
An additional alpha variant case, meantime, has been tagged as recovered, the DOH added.
The public is urged to follow minimum health standards and get vaccinated and boosted as the omicron variant seems to inflict milder symptoms on patients but is more transmissible than the delta variant, authorities earlier said.
The capital region's virus cases last week broke daily tally records, with the DOH saying that the omicron variant has likely spread at the community level. On Tuesday, the agency said it has also observed an increase in COVID-19 infections in other regions.
More than 3.27 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the country, of which 284,458 are active, the DOH said Tuesday.
Of those still infected, 303 are critically ill, 1,484 are severe, and 2,957 are in moderate condition. Majority or 270,784 are mild cases, while 8,930 are asymptomatic.
The Philippines logged its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 30, 2020 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the respiratory disease is believed to have first emerged.