OMICRON now in Bicol: the public is urged to continue practicing minimum public health standards amid celebration of New Year’s Day
The Department of Health Bicol Center for Health Development (DOH Bicol CHD) reports cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the Bicol Region. This is the result of a genomic sequencing from the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) received by the Bicol Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) today, December 31, 2021.
The first case is a 27 year-old female from Bombon, Camarines Sur. A worker from a private office in Manila, the individual was identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case. She was tested on December 14, 2021 which yielded a positive result on December 15, 2021. The patient is asymptomatic and fully-vaccinated with Sinovac. The patient has been tagged as recovered.
The second case is a 46 year-old female school staff member in Tigaon, Camarines Sur. The patient was initially positive for Delta and upon repeat test, the result yielded positive for Omicron. She developed mild signs and symptoms on November 16, 2021. On December 6, she was tagged as recovered. The case has no known history of travel abroad or in Manila. The case has been partially vaccinated with Sinovac.
With this development, the Bicol CHD is coordinating with the local health authorities, through the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) of the Camarines Sur Provincial Health Office for immediate response. An urgent call to trace and identify all contacts up to the 3rd generation of cases is strongly recommended to commence immediately.
The COVID-19 B.1.1.529, or Omicron, was categorized by the World Health Organization as a Variant of Concern due to it having the ability to spread faster than the original COVID-19 strain. Experts from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms. Available data shows that available vaccines confer protection against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthroughs in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. The Bicol CHD strongly urges the public to strictly maintain and continue practicing the Minimum Public Health Standards, especially during the celebration of New Year’s Day. Properly wearing face masks, sanitizing hands and refraining from attending social gatherings are essential in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
Unvaccinated individuals are strongly advised to have themselves inoculated, while those who have received their first dose are advised to receive their second dose to be fully-vaccinated. Booster shots are also highly encouraged. Vaccines remain effective in protecting oneself from severe symptoms and death brought about by COVID-19 and its variants.
With the emergence of the Omicron variant, the Department of Health urges Local Government Units (LGUs) and the general public to heighten case detection and identification of clusters through active case finding, and immediate isolation of suspects and their contacts. LGUs are advised to consider border control and strengthen local response, in particular the implementation of the zoning containment strategy in areas with reported cases. Lastly, it must be emphasized that RT-PCR testing is still the cornerstone for identification of cases.
(Source: DOH Bicol CHD)