Facade of the DOH main office in Manila. INQUIRER.net file photo
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed having detected the COVID-19 Omicron variant in two travelers who recently arrived in the Philippines from Japan and Nigeria.
A press release from the DOH on Wednesday noon said the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) reported that two imported cases of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of concern came out of the 48 samples sequenced on Tuesday.
The first patient is a Filipino returning from an overseas trip, who came from Japan last December 1, while the other case involves a Nigerian national who arrived from Nigeria last November 30.
“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,” DOH said.
“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,” it added.
The DOH assured that the patients carrying the Omicron COVID-19 variant are currently isolated in a facility being managed by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ). Also, the department added that it is identifying possible close contacts of the two patients, including fellow passengers in the flights.
“The DOH is 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 may call the DOH COVID-19 Hotlines at (02) 8942 6843 or 1555, or their respective LGUs to report their status,” DOH added.
With the detection of the Omicron variant — said to be 10 times more infectious than the original variant from China and 4.2 times more transmissible than the dreaded Delta variant — the DOH is appealing to the public to continue observing minimum public health safety protocols like wearing of masks and maintaining physical distance in public areas.
“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,” DOH said.
“Moreover, this holiday season, the public should avoid holding mass gatherings to curb the transmission of COVID-19. 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,” it added.
READ: Serious surge of infections likely if Omicron enters PH — Octa Research
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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.
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