A THIRD case of the highly mutated Omicron coronavirus variant has been recorded in the Philippines, with the carrier a 36-year old unvaccinated Filipino who flew back from Qatar, health authorities announced on Monday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said on Monday that the returning Filipino was asymptomatic and had already tested negative against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) last Sunday.
“The case completed his isolation in Cebu before traveling back to Cavite, his hometown, where he immediately self quarantined at home upon arrival. The case is currently finishing his home quarantine in Cavite and has remained asymptomatic since his arrival,” she told reporters via Zoom.
He arrived at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport late November and his test sample was reported positive on Dec. 5.
Three close contacts identified from the flight manifest have already tested negative for the virus, Ms. Vergeire said.
“The DoH (Department of Health) is already determining the possible close contacts among co-passengers during the flights of this case,” she said.
“The DoH is also verifying the test results and health status of all passengers of this flight if there are other confirmed cases or passengers who became symptomatic after arrival.”
The department earlier reported the country’s first two cases of the Omicron variant, where one was a returning Filipino migrant worker from Japan while the other was a Nigerian. Both, including all close contacts, have already tested negative for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the department reported 263 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 2.84 million.
The death toll hit 50,784 after 45 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 390 to 2.78 million, it said in a bulletin.
There were 9,592 active cases, 473 of which did not show symptoms, 3,569 were mild, 3,375 were moderate, 1,797 were severe and 378 were critical.
The agency said 67% of the reported cases occurred from Dec. 7 to 20.
The regions with the most number of cases in the past two weeks were Metro Manila with 44, Calabarzon with 32, and Zamboanga Peninsula with 23.
It added that 20% of the reported deaths occurred in December, 2% in November, 38% in October, and 67% in September.
DoH said five duplicates had been removed from the tally, which were reclassified as recoveries while 35 recoveries were reclassified as deaths.
Another 105 patients had tested negative and were removed from the tally. Four laboratories did not operate on Dec. 18, while 13 failed to submit data.
The agency said 21% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate for Metro Manila was 22%.
Ms. Vergeire also said that the average daily cases further dropped to 299 last week, down 24% from 398 the previous week. In the capital region, daily cases have decreased by 7%.
All regions across the country are also at minimal health risk classification, with a negative two-week growth rate and average daily attack rate of less than one per 100,000 population in the past week, she said.
Health systems capacity, she added, is also at low risk in all areas. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan