The Philippines Faces an Enormous Covid-19 Wave; Omicron Could be the Dominant Strain

Manila: The Philippines is seeing the sudden omicron variant rise with Covid-19 infection by the end of this month. The researchers said the current wave spreads twice as fast as last year, produced by another highly contagious variant delta. Philippines’ senior health officer told Omicron could be the prevalent variant in three to four weeks, replacing the Delta variant.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire spoke at a news briefing that with covid-19 cases increasing rapidly in the past two weeks, the Philippines was also at high risk for conditions. Dr Edsel Salvana, an infectious disease specialist and an advisor to the Health Ministry, stated that while there has, however, to be definitive evidence of Omicron-fuelled community transmission, “there’s a chance that Omicron is already spreading”.

This is established on the number of people with conditions, particularly among the vaccinated and those who have already had their booster shots, and the exponential growth in cases, “though we still don’t know the proportion”, he added.

Most cases have been in Metro Manila – an urban sprawl of 16 cities home to more than 13 million. There were 3,317 new infections on Jan 2, up from just 97 on Dec 20. The area tallied a total of 10,292 new cases in the past two weeks.

But with 95 per cent of the region’s population having at least one dose of a vaccine, the government is confident a majority of cases will be mild or moderate, and hospitals will not be overwhelmed with patients with severe symptoms.

Restaurants, churches, restaurant dine-in services, amusement parks, tourist attractions, beauty salons and fitness studios would open at lower capacities.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry is continuing its probe on hotels designated as quarantine facilities that allow overseas travellers to leave before they complete their mandatory quarantine.

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