AN official from the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7) says the Omicron variant of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is already present in the region, particularly in Cebu, even if test results have yet to confirm this.

During her briefing at the Visayas Vaccination Operations Center Monday, January 17, 2022, DOH 7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said she was definite the Omicron variant was already here amid the surge in cases, particularly in Cebu City.

This, despite the fact that they are still awaiting the results of 81 samples sent to the Philippine Genome Center for genome sequencing.

“This is real already. Let us consider and treat like Omicron is with us. With the rate of cases right now, the rapid rise, I would say, definitely, we have the Omicron with us although we are still waiting for the results from the Philippine Genome Center,” she said.

As of January 15, the capacity utilization rate in private hospitals in Cebu was at 33.4 percent as 221 of 661 allocated Covid beds were occupied.

Of the 661 allocated Covid beds, 603 were regular beds while 58 were Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds.

Of the 221 patients in hospital, 121 Covid were asymptomatic or having mild symptoms only, 93 had moderate to severe symptoms, and seven were critical and in the ICU.

Loreche urged fully vaccinated individuals or those who have received their booster shots but are close contacts of probable or confirmed Covid-19 cases, to stay home whether they are asymptomatic or not.

However, Loreche said, unvaccinated individuals with comorbidities must undergo a medical checkup either through tele-consult or at the barangay health centers before deciding on whether they should undergo home quarantine or isolation.

“Having yourselves checked, examined and properly guided, may save your life,” she said, explaining that home isolation or quarantine may not be suitable for some people.

As for the public DOH-retained or sentinel hospitals, Loreche said the capacity utilization rate had reached 68.4 percent as 308 of the 450 beds allocated for Covid-19 patients were already occupied as of January 15.

Loreche said this happened because the bed allocation was low, as there are a lot of non-Covid patients using beds in the hospitals.

“And they cannot just, of course, discharge these in order to take away the beds and give them to our Covid patients. We have to wait for them to be discharged, so that the beds can be allocated to either Covid or non-Covid patients,” she said.

Loreche emphasized that hospital beds are allocated primarily for the moderate to severe and critical Covid patients.

She said based on the latest consolidated report they received, most of the admitted Covid-19 patients in both public and private hospitals were unvaccinated.

“So I would be able to say again that the data that we have been studying from other countries saying that Omicron will hit the unvaccinated, particularly those with comorbidities and the younger age population, including children, is really true,” she said.