DOH detects Omicron variant in 2 travelers from Japan and Nigeria

Facade of the DOH main office in Manila. file photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed it has detected the COVID-19 variant Omicron in two travelers recently arrived in the Philippines from Japan and Nigeria.

A DOH press release issued at noon on Wednesday said that the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) reported that two imported cases of Omicron (B 1.1.529) a worrying variant came out of the 48 samples sequenced on Tuesday.

The first patient is a Filipino returning from a trip abroad, who came from Japan on December 1, while the other case concerns a Nigerian national who arrived from Nigeria on November 30.

“One is a Filipino Returning Overseas (ROF) who arrived from Japan on December 1, 2021, via Philippine Airlines flight number PR 0427. The sample was collected on December 5, 2021. His positive result was released on December 7 and the case was admitted to an isolation center on the same date. He is currently asymptomatic but had symptoms of a cold and cough upon arrival, “the DOH said.

“The other case is a Nigerian national who arrived from Nigeria on November 30, 2021 via Oman Air with flight number WY 843. A sample was taken on December 6, 2021 and the result was released on December 7, 2021. It was then admitted to an isolation center on the same date. His current status is also asymptomatic, ”he added.

The DOH has assured that patients carrying the Omicron COVID-19 variant are currently isolated in a facility managed by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ). In addition, the department added that it was identifying possible close contacts of the two patients, including other passengers on the flights.

“The DOH is checking the test results and health status of all passengers on these flights to determine if there are any other confirmed cases or passengers who have become symptomatic after arrival. Travelers who have arrived in the Philippines via these flights can call the DOH COVID-19 hotlines on (02) 8942 6843 or 1555, or their respective LGUs to report their status, ”the DOH added.

With the detection of the Omicron variant – which is said to be 10 times more infectious than the original Chinese variant and 4.2 times more transmissible than the dreaded Delta variant – the DOH calls on the public to continue to observe minimum public health safety protocols such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distance in public places.

“With the detection of imported cases of Omicron variant, the ministry is also urging everyone to meet minimum public standards and properly wear face masks, wash their hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol, to observe a physical distance, to ensure good ventilation and to avoid crowded areas, ”said the DOH.

“In addition, this holiday season, the public should avoid organizing mass rallies to curb the transmission of COVID-19. The DOH is also urging unvaccinated people to get vaccinated during National Immunization Days to receive the extra protection that vaccines offer against COVID-19, ”he added.

READ: Infections likely to increase if Omicron goes into PH – Octa Research


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