Philippine health authorities have detected ten COVID-19 Omicron variant cases, including three local cases, as the country prepared to usher in the New Year on December 31.
The three local Omicron variant cases include two from Bicol and one from the National Capital Region.
The ten new cases brought to 14 the number of Omicron cases detected in the Philippines.
"The [Department of Health] would like to inform the public that in the coming days/weeks, there is high probability of exponential growth with continued decreased adherence to MPHS and the detection of local cases with Omicron variant," the DOH said in a statement.
"The epidemiologoical investigation on the three local cases indicates there is high possibility of local transmission. Moreover, breakthrough infections caused by the Omicron variant have been documented among the vaccinated and boosted although mostly mild or asymptomatic," it added.
Tagged as recovered
The first local case is a 42-year-old male from NCR who tested positive on December 3 and was tagged as recovered on December 17.
The second local case is a 27-year-old female from Bicol Region who tested positive on December 14.
The third local case is a 46-year-old female from Bicol Region who tested positive on December 15.
All cases have been tagged as recovered.
Following the detection of local cases, the DOH sternly warned the public against disregarding minimum public health standards, testing, isolation, and quarantine protocols.
“This holiday season, we continue to remind LGUs to conduct active case finding to identify cases and clusters," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
"They may also implement granular lockdowns as needed. LGUs should also prepare isolation facilities for individuals who cannot do home quarantine or isolation,"che added.
"Lastly, increase vaccination coverage among the high-risk groups such as senior citizens and those with underlying conditions to reduce hospitalization and deaths due to COVID-19,” Duque said.
The DOH said the seven imported cases of the Omicron variant included six Returning Overseas Filipinos and one Malaysian national.
Three of the cases arrived from the United States on Philippine Airlines flights PR 127 on December 16 and PR 103 on December 15 while two arrived from the United Kingdom via the connecting flights of Singapore Airlines flight SQ 910 on December 15 and Emirates Airlines flight EK 332 on December 9.
Another case arrived from the United Arab Emirates through Philippine Airlines flight 659 on December 19.
The last imported case arrived from Ghana through the connecting flight of Qatar Airways flight number QR 930 on December 14.
The husband of the fourth Omicron case previously announced is among these seven cases.
All other details are currently being verified.
48 samples sequenced
The ten new Omicron cases came from the 48 samples sequenced by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) on Friday.
The DOH said it was currently verifying the test results and health status of other passengers to determine if there are other confirmed cases or passengers who became symptomatic after arrival.
It added that further information will be announced in the regular media forum on Monday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said the fourth case is a 38-year-old female from the United States who arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on December 10 via Philippine Airlines PR 127.
Meanwhile, one returning overseas Filipino (ROF) and two international travelers who arrived from Japan and Nigeria were detected positive for the Omicron variant.
Follow health protocols
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged the public to continue to follow minimum public health protocols to prevent transmission of the viral disease.
“This holiday season, we continue to remind LGUs to conduct active case finding to identify cases and clusters. They may also implement granular lockdowns as needed. LGUs should also prepare isolation facilities for individuals who cannot do home quarantine or isolation,” he said.
“We also have to keep our healthcare utilization at a manageable level. We can do this by working together to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. All eligible individuals should get vaccinated or boosted as soon as possible,” he added. —NB, GMA News