FACT CHECK DOH: Regions XI and XII remain Omicron-free

A message circulating on Facebook group chats that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is already present in the Davao Region (Region XI) and Socsksargen (Region XII) is fake news.

As of press time Monday, January 10, the Department of Health in both Regions XI and XII have not announced any case of Omicron in their respective jurisdictions. 

The information that Omicron has been detected in Davao City and that the patient was confined at the Davao Doctors Hospital started circulating on social media chat groups on January 5.  

“There is already Omicron here in davao n the patient daw is in dvo doc and there will be possible lockdown on the 3rd or 4th week of this month,” a forwarded message on a local group chat said. 

The message first circulated in group chats in Kidapawan City.

Particularly for Region XI, Dr. Annabelle Yumang, DOH-Davao regional director, said during Monday’s (January 10) Usapang Pangkalusugan media forum that there was no Omicron variant detected in the region so far.

Meanwhile, Dr. Exequiel Dimaano, a Kidapawan-based doctor, has denied being the source of the announcement of the alleged Omicron variant detected in Davao City, after the message was circulated on Facebook group chats in his city.

In an interview with MindaNews, Dimaano said he was reminding his group chats to adhere to basic health practices.

The first iteration of this message was forwarded to Dimaano through a teacher’s group chat.

As a medical officer of the teacher’s group, Dimaano then responded that he had no knowledge of the case, and called on the people to practice minimum health standards.

Dimaano also responded by saying that people should prepare for the possible spread of Omicron in the region.

But along the way, the message evolved and instead cited the doctor as the source. The message was passed around some more through other group chats.

To date, Mindanao has logged two cases of the Omicron variant, in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City

In Iligan, the case was identified as a 40-year-old unvaccinated returning seafarer from Kenya

The other Mindanao case was a student identified as a resident of Cagayan de Oro City who returned from the United States but quarantined in Manila. (Yas D. Ocampo / MindaNews)

(This fact-check piece was produced with the support of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator Project.)