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Duque: Sharp increase in COVID-19 cases probably due to Omicron

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday that the highly transmissible Omicron variant may already be responsible for the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. 

“Talagang nakakaalarma ‘yan, walang kaduda-duda… I-assume na natin dahil sumipa ng doble, doble isang araw ang kaso, eh malamang Omicron na rin ‘yan,” Duque said in Lei Alviz’s report on “24 Oras."

(This is really alarming, there’s no doubt… Let’s assume that because our cases doubled in a day, this is probably because of Omicron.)

After a whole month of reporting less than 1,000 daily infections per day, the Department of Health on Thursday logged 1,623 new cases.

This further increased to 2,961 new infections on Friday.

According to the OCTA Research, an independent monitoring group, the reproduction number in the National Capital Region (NCR) rose to 2.19 from 1.47 previously.

Reproduction rate refers to the number of people infected by one case. A reproduction number that is below 1 indicates that the transmission of the virus is slowing down.

OCTA said this is the highest reproduction number in NCR since July 2020.
On Thursday, the daily positivity rate in the region rose to 14%.

“It is exponentially increasing, so it’s increasing at a very fast rate. Something we haven’t seen. I mean, we may have seen it only [in] the early part of the pandemic,” OCTA fellow Guido David said.

“There could be several factors, [the] holiday factor, of course. There’s already a possibility that the Omicron may be spreading already. We’re not saying that it is spreading. We’re waiting for genome confirmation,” he added.

The Philippines has so far recorded four Omicron cases. —Joahna Lei Casilao/VBL, GMA News