Rapid COVID spike typical of ‘highly transmissible’ variant, experts say


Posted at Jan 01 2022 12:14 PM | Updated as of Jan 01 2022 02:06 PM

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MANILA -- The virus mutation causing the recent swelling of domestic COVID-19 infections has qualities of “very highly transmissible variant”, some doctors said.

“The rapidity in the increases in cases is very characteristic of a very highly transmissible variant of concern, and if you look at the trend in terms of increases from other countries ang situation natin ngayon paumpisa pa lang,” Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine unit of the San Lazaro Hospital, said in an interview on Teleradyo on Saturday, but did not say explicitly it was omicron.

Health reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon echoed the sentiment.

"Ina-analyze ko nga ’yan. Ang increase kasi is driven by the National Capital Region. Sa cases kasi 68 percent, almost 2,000 ang nasa NCR, out of the 2,961," he said.

"Eh mataas ang vaccination rate mo rito, relatively higher, at sa dami ng naconfine, nagkaskit dito nung August of September, so definitely may natural immunity ka na."

"So this is why, sa Twitter nga sa exchanges, hindi ako naniniwalang driven by the Delta ‘to, kasi naging successful ang government sa pagpa-flatten ng curve kasi alam mo na yung positivity rate ang tagal nitong mababa, less than 5 percent, nag 0.9 pa nga ito eh," he added.

"So kaya ang mga tao, lumabas nitong holiday season. At alam natin magkakaroon ng uptick, ang projection hindi ganoon kataas. Ang dagger dito, actually yung omicron."

The Department of Health on Friday detected 10 new cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant in the country, 7 of which were imported and 3 were local infections.

Leachon said the best way to fight the rapid spike in COVID-19 cases was to reduce mobility.

"Ang unang-unang importante dito sa trasmissibility, mobility. So we have to reduce mobility, we have to reduce gatherings, tapos, mask up and then testing, and then vaccination, and then booster. Focus tayo sa limang bagay na ’yun," he said.

Dr. Aileen Espina of the Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians agreed with Leachon.

"Ang importante ho talaga is, bawasan ang mobility. Ang kinatatakutan ko po, binawasan nga yung taong papasok sa opisina, nandoon naman sa mall," Espina said.

She added also encouraged businesses to implement a work-from-home setup whenever possible.

" ’Yung puwede pong hindi po muna pumasok, can render their service or work in a work from home setting, I would recommend that," she said.

Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level 3 from January 3-15, 2022 following an increase in COVID-19 cases, Malacanang announced Friday.

Espina said she agreed with this decision, adding that it may be hard for the country to go under the strictest quarantine classification right away.

"we really have to balance buhay at kabuhayan. At this point in time we cannot go back to the very very stricy lockdown. Angs ab inga namin sa (Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19), , ang ano talaga natin is learning now to live with the virus. And we have the tools. Alam naman natin na kung paano siya gagawin , di ba?" she said. 

"We have kept on saying over and over again, magpabakuna po. So salamat po sa nagpabakuna pa. Magpabooster doon sa kumpleto na yung primary dose. Tapos yung hindi pa po nagpapabakuna, 2022 na po, magpabakuna na po kayo. Kailangan na po yun."

--TeleRadyo, 1 January 2021