Omicron community transmission already happening in NCR — DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — There is already a community transmission of the highly infectious Omicron variant within Metro Manila, the Department of Health confirmed.

"Dito sa [Here in the] National Capital Region, we are seeing community transmission nitong [of this] Omicron variant," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Saturday.

Vergeire said despite delays in their overall genome sequencing run, "we have already determined that there are local cases" of Omicron.

She also said the variant's signature characteristics can be seen in the current trends in NCR.

"'Yung mabilis na pagkalat, 'yung very steep rise in the number of cases as [days pass], 'yung doubling time na every two days na napakabilis — ito po lahat ay characteristics ng Omicron variant," she noted.

[Translation: The rapid transmission, very steep rise in the number of cases as days pass, and quicker doubling time of two days — these are all characteristics of the Omicron variant.]

Aside from Metro Manila, the DOH spokesperson said other regions, which are also seeing an increase in infections, may be experiencing the same.

""Yun pong regions na ito, nakikita na natin ang parehong [characteristics] sa NCR nung nag-umpisa po tayo," she pointed out.

[Translation: We are seeing the same characteristics in these regions as what we have seen in the NCR when this spike began.]

"Mukhang talagang dadating ang panahon na madi-displace na po (ang Delta variant) at magiging Omicron ang dominant dito sa ating bansa kung magtutuloy-tuloy ang ganitong klaseng transmission," Vergeire added.

[Translation: It is really likely that Omicron will displace Delta and become the dominant variant here in the country if this kind of transmission continues.]

Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier said more cases have tested positive for Omicron than Delta in their latest genome sequencing run. As of Jan. 6, the department has confirmed 43 Omicron infections.

The Philippines on Friday has logged over 3.1 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with the number of people currently infected at an all-time high of 265,509.