The Philippines has detected its fourth Omicron COVID-19 case, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Dec. 27.
The case is a 38-year-old female from the United States who arrived on Dec. 10. According to the DOH, she was exposed to the virus in the US—where Omicron is the dominant strain of COVID-19.
On Dec. 13, the traveler experienced throat itchiness and colds, and on Dec. 14, she tested positive. The patient was released from the isolation facility 10 days later and still tested positive during her reswab on Christmas day. Currently, she is isolated at home.
"Detecting Omicron cases remain to be among international arrivals, but entry is inevitable," DOH Undersecretary Rosette Vergiere said. "We want to further delay its entry to ensure local health systems are ready."
To minimize the local impact of Omicron, the DOH is pushing for ramped up vaccinations and by controlling infections increases through immediate case detection, isolation, and contact tracing.
Vergiere also highlighted how nationally, average cases remain lower in the recent weeks, though there has been an increase in case and positivity rate in Metro Manila.
“Mayron tayong nakikitang uptick ng kaso pero it’s not significant enough yet it is an alarm, a warning for all of us, that cases might start to increase,” Vergeire said, as he urged the public to continue complying with minimum public health standards.
OCTA Research's Dr. Guido David during PTV-4's Laging Handa telecast today attributed the uptick to the holidays and said that it isn't Omicron-driven. He added that there's no need to heighten restrictions at this time.
"Kung i-kumpara natin sa December 2020, nagkaroon din tayo ng holiday uptick so hindi natin masasabi na Omicron-driven ito dahil nakita rin naman natin ito last year. Siguro dahil sa pagtitipon-tipon ng mga kababayan natin kaya kailangan double pag-iingat natin," he said.
"Sa ngayon kasi, di pa tayo pwedeng gumawa ng premature intervention kasi di pa kumpleto nakikita nating larawan," David added.
By January 1, the DOH will also no longer post daily COVID-19 case updates, but will continue to publish data through their website.