Omicron suspected in CDO as city records 1,255 new cases in 7 days

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 22 January) — COVID-19 is spreading in the city at the rate much faster than it  did since the start of the global pandemic, and officials could only theorize that it’s the Omicron variant that’s causing the surge.

“The surge of COVID-19 cases is very alarming, I have never seen so much spike in the two years of pandemic,” Dr. Gina Itchon, head of Research and Development at the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), said.

Itchon said she is afraid that the number of cases in Cagayan de Oro would still shoot up next week.

Cagayan de Oro recorded 1,255 new cases in seven days – from a total of 22,279 cases on January 15 to 23,534 on January  21, according to data from the Department of Health’s (DOH) Center for Health Development in Northern Mindanao. 

The city recorded 1,767 cases in two weeks, from 21,767 on January 8 to 23,534 on January 21, with 275 new cases logged on January 21. 

An ambulance driver gets instructions and directions to the location of a COVID-19 patient he was to pick up in this file photo taken on June 7, 2021. The IATF has placed Cagayan de Oro City under Alert Level 3 from January 14 to 31 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

MindaNews computed the daily attack rate for the two-week period at 17.32 per 100,000 population. The DOH central office classifies an area with an ADAR of less than 1 as low risk while areas with above 7 are  high risk.  

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases placed Mindanao under Alert Level 3 from January 14 to 31 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

From December 25 to January 8, the city recorded only 118 cases and and ADAR of 1.15 per 100,000 population.

“This is not Delta. This is Omicron already. The infections are spreading so fast,” Itchon said.

Itchon said they have sent swab samples to the Philippine Genome Center to validate their suspicion that the more transmissible Omicron variant was causing of the upsurge of COVID-19 infections in the city.  They are still awaiting results. 

Fourteen Omicron cases have been recorded in Mindanao as of January 20: seven in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, five in the Davao region and two in Region 12, popularly known as Soccsksargen, according to the DOH Davao, DOH Soccsksargen and the Ministry of Health in the BARMM. 

The City Health Office recorded eight COVID-19-related deaths since January 17.  Four of those who died were unvaccinated while the other four had comorbidities, officials said.

Among the residents recently infected with COVID-19 is Dr. Ted Yu, Cagayan de Oro Health Office medical officer and prominent figure in the city’s COVID-19 campaign to curb COVID-19 transmissions.

Yu went into isolation after he tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, January 18.

Itchon cautioned residents against underestimating Omicron, which is highly transmissible especially to the unvaccinated. 

She said of the 90 patients now confined at the NMMC, ninety percent are unvaccinated.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said Omicron is less severe for those fully vaccinated and those who received booster shots. 

“That is the silver lining in this surge. Most of those infected are mild cases,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)