No Omicron variant of COVID-19 has yet been detected in the Philippines, based on the latest genome sequencing data released by the Department of Health (DOH).
But of the 629 samples processed by the Philippine Genome Center in the last batch of sequencing, it turned out that 571 or more than 90 percent were affected by the Delta variant.
When it comes to those who came to the Philippines from South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first reported, the Bureau of Quarantine has detected 80.
It also turned out that three foreigners and 1 Filipino in Western Visayas who underwent the retest were negative for COVID-19.
But there are still 12 samples of returning overseas Filipinos who are still trying to determine which variant of COVID-19 was hit.
“Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning, makuha natin ang resulta,” said Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Expert information about the Omicron variant is still limited, but it is expected to increase in the coming weeks.
According to epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, many plans are already to combat the new variant.
No Omicron variant has yet been detected in PH: DOH
“One is to rev up the production of the vaccines that they already have. The next is to make, for example, a bivalent, where you have the vaccine against both the ancestral strain and the new variant, and the other is to make a variant-specific boost,” said Fauci.
The DOH, on the other hand, admitted that the time would definitely come when Omicron will be able to enter the Philippines, so it is important to be prepared.
“We cannot 100 percent control or prevent the entry of these variants. Ang ginagawa natin, we buy time when we prepare our system,” said Vergeire.
Meanwhile, the Philippines remains at “minimal risk” regarding COVID-19 cases.
The region no longer has “moderate risk.” Instead, most are “minimal,” and only Cagayan Valley Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Metro Manila are “low risk.”
The health care capacity of each region is also “low risk.”
But the DOH is said to be monitoring Eastern Samar, and Zamboanga Sibugay after the number of cases rose slightly.