No Omicron detected in Region 7 yet as samples sent for sequencing

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - CDN Digital | January 05,2022 - 12:40 PM
No Omicron detected in Region 7 yet as samples sent for sequencing

INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Health officials in Central Visayas urged the public to brace for the highly transmissible Omicron variant even if it has not yet been detected here. 

An official from the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) said they have begun sending samples to the national government to check if these were infected with the newest mutation of SARS-CoV-2. 

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, chief pathologist of DOH-7, and spokesperson of the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center (VVOC), said they sent a total of 37 samples from COVID-19 patients in the region to the Philippine Genome Center. 

Of this number, two came from patients who got the infection through local transmission while the remaining 35 were Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs). 

“We are preparing to send 37 samples that (have) qualified for genomic sequencing galing from Central Visayas. Two of these are from the community and 35 are from ROFs. Walang OFW (infected with COVID-19) qualified for genomic sequencing,” said Loreche. 

Genomic sequencing is used to determine if the SARS-CoV-2 found in an infected person is a mutated strain. 

While results have yet to be released for the 37 samples, Loreche urged local governments to start ramping up health protocols and their vaccination drives. 

The chief pathologist pointed to the devastation left by Typhoon Odette, such as jampacked evacuation centers with no running water and isolation facilities that have incurred significant damages, as factors that could contribute to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Loreche also said the holiday rush would lead to another spike in infections. 

“The possibility of having a surge is real. But Omicron-driven siya? Hindi natin masasabi until we do our bio-surveillance. But short of our bio-surveillance, let us treat it as it is driven by the Omicron variant,” she explained. 

(The possibility of having a surge is real. But is it Omicron-driven? We can’t tell until we do our bio-surveillance. But short of our bio-surveillance, let us treat it as it is driven by the Omicron variant)

Furthermore, Loreche called on unvaccinated individuals to get the vaccine if it meant lessening the chances of being hospitalized if they get infected with COVID-19. 

“Magpabakuna na tayo. Yung hindi pa nababakunahan, at yung due na for their booster shots, magpa-booster shots na po tayo,” she added. 

(Let’s get vaccinated. Those who haven’t been vaccinated, and those due for their booster shots, let’s get our booster shots now.”

As of January 3, Central Visayas sustained recording low numbers of new COVID-19 cases as it registered only 16 new patients, bringing the total number of active cases to 531.  

Hospital occupancy levels here also remained within safe levels, at 5.8 percent as of January 2, 2022. 

Central Visayas, where Cebu is located, remained under Alert Level 2.

/bmjo

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TAGS: Central Visayas, COVID-19, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, Omicron

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