Philippines Reports First Omicron Variant Cases

Two Omicron variant cases have been detected in the Philippines. One from a returning overseas Filipino while the other is a Nigerian national.
Two Omicron variant cases have been detected in the Philippines. One from a returning overseas Filipino while the other is a Nigerian national.

The Department of Health (DOH) verified that the country has two Omicron variant cases. The Philippine Genome Center detected the virus from the sequenced 48 samples on Monday, Dec. 13.

The two Omicron variant cases involve a Filipino returning from Japan who arrived on December 1. The passenger boarded the Philippine Airlines flight. The other passenger was a Nigerian national who onboarded the Oman Airlines flight WY 843. The plane arrived in the country last November 30.

The DOH stated that they verifying all of the passengers’ test results as well as their health status. The health agency will identify if there were other verified cases or passengers who became symptomatic after their arrival. Currently, they are still retrieving the flight’s list of passengers and crew.

DOH Press Release On Detected Omicron Variant Cases

The DOH launched a press release regarding the first detected Omicron variant cases. The report, however, didn’t verify which passenger has been inoculated and which one hasn’t.

“One is a Returning Overseas Filipino (ROF) who arrived from Japan on December 1, 2021, via Philippine Airlines flight number PR 0427. The sample was collected on December 5, 2021. His positive result was released on December 7 and the case was admitted to an isolation facility on the same date. He 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 was released on December 7, 2021. He was then admitted to an isolation facility on the same date. His current status is also asymptomatic.”

More Transmissible than Original Coronavirus and Delta Variant

Studies suggest that the Omicron variant is ten-fold more contagious than the original. Also, it’s 4.2 times more infectious than the Delta variant.

The Omicron variant contains 50 mutations, which include 30 in the spike protein region. This might be the reason for the escalated contagiousness and immunity circumvention.

According to WHO, the Omicron variant may cause milder infection and may resinfect people easier than previous variants. This latest coronavirus variant were first detected in Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong. Currently, 78 nations around the world already reported cases of this variant case, including the Philippines.

With the Omicron variant cases’ entry in the Philippines, the DOH asks the public to observe minimum public health safety protocols constantly. It includes wearing masks and keeping physical distance in public or crowded areas. Additionally, the public must not forget to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water, disinfect with alcohol, and ensure proper ventilation.

DOH also added that the public must avoid holding mass gatherings this holiday season. It’s because it will help limit the transmission of the Covid-19 virus. Additionally, the said government agency urged unvaccinated people to have their jabs during the National Vaccination Days.

New Travelers’ Ban Announced

The Philippine government imposed a ban on travelers from eight territories to help curb the Omicron variant. From December 16 to 31, the country will ban travelers from the “high-risk” areas. These nations include:

  • South Africa
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • Andorra
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Monaco
  • Reunion
  • France

Filipinos can return to the country provided it’s through the repatriation efforts and “Bayanihan” flights. Travelers who arrived on the through the mentioned flights must contact the DOH hotlines (02) 8942 6843and 1555. Likewise, they can keep in touch with their respective local governments to communicate their status.

Image Source: Mx.Granger/WikimediaCommons