As the country braces for the impact of typhoon Odette, the Department of Health (DOH), through the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) also confirmed that two imported cases of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of concern were detected.
The two Omicron variant cases are from arriving travelers and are currently isolated in a facility managed by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), the DOH said.
The latest sequencing run was composed of samples from 21 Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs), one foreign national, and 26 local cases from areas with case clusters.
DOH said of the 2 confirmed cases, one is a Returning Overseas Filipino (ROF) who arrived from Japan last December 1, via Philippine Airlines flight number PR 0427. The sample was collected on December 5 and the result was released on December 7. The male patient was admitted in an isolation facility on the same date and is currently asymptomatic but had symptoms of colds and cough upon arrival.
The other case is a Nigerian national who arrived from Nigeria on November 30, 2021 via Oman Air with flight number WY 843. A sample was collected on December 6, 2021 and the result released on December 7, 2021. He was then admitted to an isolation facility on the same date and remains asymptomatic.
The health bureau said they are determining possible close contacts among co-passengers during the flights of these two patients.
The DOH is also verifying the test results and health status of all passengers of these flights to determine if there are other confirmed cases or passengers who became symptomatic after arrival.
Travelers who have arrived in the Philippines through these flights are advised to call the DOH COVID-19 Hotlines at (02) 8942 6843 or 1555, or their respective LGUs to report their status.
DELTA VARIANT CASES:
Aside from these two Omicron cases, there were 33 positive for the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant while 13 had no lineage assigned.
Of the additional 33 Delta variant cases, 14 were ROFs. The 19 local cases were tested in the following regions: three each from Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Caraga, and SOCCSKSARGEN, two from Western Visayas, and one each from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Eastern Visayas, and Davao Region.
This update brings the total number of confirmed Delta variant cases to 7,919.
The Department is closely working with local government units for them to conduct active case finding and ensure that COVID-19 cases are immediately isolated, tested and contact traced, and that eligible samples for sequencing are submitted.
With the detection of the imported cases of Omicron variant, the Department also urges everyone to adhere to the minimum public standards and properly wear face masks, frequently wash hands with soap and water or alcohol, observe physical distancing, ensure proper ventilation, and avoid crowded areas. Moreover, this holiday season, the public should avoid holding mass gatherings to curb the transmission of COVID-19, it added.
The DOH also urges those unvaccinated to get vaccinated during the National Vaccination Days to receive the additional protection that vaccines provide against COVID-19.