THE HUSBAND of the fourth Omicron variant case in the Philippines has tested positive for the coronavirus and sequencing is underway to determine if he is carrying the same variant, according to Health authorities.

The 37-year-old Filipino took a COVID-19 test on the same day as his wife, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said in a Viber message to reporters on Tuesday. They were isolated for 10 days upon the release of results.

“After a 10-day isolation, both were discharged asymptomatic,” Ms. Vergeire said. “They will be retested based on existing protocols.”

The husband and his 38-year old wife arrived in the country from the United States on Dec. 10.

The sample of the husband “will be processed now for sequencing,” Ms. Vergeire said.

She said their household members have also been isolated and will be tested based on existing protocols.

The government has imposed stricter quarantine and international border controls to mitigate a potential surge from the more transmissive coronavirus variant, but eased local mobility and other restrictions have been maintained since mid-November as cases dropped. 

The Philippines posted 421 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 2.84 million.

The death toll from the coronavirus hit 51,213 after two more patients died, while recoveries increased by 248 to 2.78 million, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

There were 9,750 active cases, 489 of which did not show symptoms, 3,766 were mild, 3,343 were moderate, 1,778 were severe, and 374 were critical.

The DoH said 97% of the reported cases occurred from Dec. 15 to 28. The top regions with new cases in the recent two weeks were Metro Manila with 170, Calabarzon with 55, and Central Luzon with 39.

The agency said the reported deaths all occurred in September.

The agency said two duplicates were removed from the tally, while two recoveries were relisted as deaths.

It said 100 patients had tested negative and were removed from the tally. “These 100 are recoveries.”

Two laboratories did not operate on Dec. 26, while 16 laboratories did not submit data. “Based on data in the last 14 days, the 18 labs contribute, on average, 2.9% of samples tested and 2.4% of positive individuals,” the department said.

The Philippines aims to fully vaccinate at least 54 million Filipinos by yearend, as it confronts threats from the heavily mutated Omicron variant.

The Philippines on Tuesday took delivery of more than two million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca Plc.

The shipment was paid for by the private sector, according to a Facebook livestream of the state-run People’s Television Network, Inc.

About 202 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been delivered to the country as of Dec. 27, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said in an interview with reporters, based on the livestream. About five million more doses are expected to arrive before yearend, he added.

Most of the new AstraZeneca doses will be used as booster shots, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III said in the same interview.

About 47.86 million Filipinos or 62.05% of the target population have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as of Dec. 23, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told a televised news briefing. The government has already injected 1.48 million booster or additional doses, he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza