GenSan alerts residents on Omicron local transmission

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 29 January) – The city government on Saturday alerted residents on the local transmission of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with two cases 

It said two local cases of the highly contagious strain were detected and are believed to have fueled the surge in COVID-19 cases in the last three weeks. 

The first patient is a 26-year-old female who was admitted to a private hospital here last January 2 “due to labor pains associated with a leaking bag of water” and later tested positive for COVID-19 in reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR testing.

Samples from the patient, who was discharged on January 5, met the criteria for genome sequencing and were confirmed as B.1.1.529 or Omicron variant based on results released this week by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center.

General Santos City. Photo courtesy of General Santos CIty FB page

The second patient is a 62-year-old male who also tested positive for COVID-19 after undergoing consultation in a private hospital early this month due to cough and was managed through home isolation.

One of the four identified close contacts of the first patient came out positive for the disease while four of the seven persons exposed to the second patient were infected. 

Both patients and the infected close contacts were already tagged recovered and currently in stable condition.

“There is no history of travel for both patients which would lead us to assume that both are cases of local transmission,” the city government said in a statement.

The city recorded a total of 1,005 active COVID-19 cases as of 6 p.m. Friday, breaching the 1,000-mark in just three weeks after posting only 31 cases on January 5.

The confirmed infections here since March 2020 have reached 16,068, with 588 related deaths and 14,475 recoveries.

Dr. Ryan Aplicador, deputy incident commander of the City Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, said the rapid increase of new infections points to an Omicron

“This is faster than what we experienced during the Delta variant surge last year,” he told reporters.

But he said most of the patients are only having mild symptoms and recovering through home care and isolation.

Aplicador, also the chief of the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital, said this can be seen with the relatively fewer hospital admission in the past several weeks.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera appealed to the public to continually comply with the minimum health protocols and non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

He cited the wearing of face masks, practicing proper hygiene, observing social distancing, and staying at home whenever possible.

“Please get vaccinated if you are qualified and get the proper booster shot for those who are fully vaccinated,” he said.

As of Jan. 27, the city government has already administered a total of 766,466 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with a daily average of 2,230 in the last seven days.

Some 358,173 residents were listed as fully vaccinated, 374,233 were waiting for their second doses, and 34,240 have received their booster shots. (Allen V. Estabillo)