THE Philippines has detected 492 more cases of Omicron variant of Sars-CoV-2, which causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), pushing the total tally of the said strain to 535, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday, January 19, 2022.

The DOH said out of the 714 samples that underwent the latest genome sequencing, 492 or 68 percent were found to have the more transmissible Omicron variant.

Of the 492 cases, two have died, three are still active, 467 have been tagged as recovered, and 20 are still being verified by the agency.

The DOH said 332 of the 492 cases were local or the patients have no travel history, while 160 were returning overseas Filipinos.

It said 227 of the local cases were from Metro Manila; 76 in Calabarzon; 11 in Central Luzon; five in Central Visayas; two each in Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Davao Region, Soccsksargen and the Cordillera Administrative Region; and one each in Ilocos, Mimaropa, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).

The DOH said cases of highly infectious Delta variant in the country have increased to 8,612.

Earlier, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the Philippines is at critical risk for Covid-19 following the increase in cases believed to be driven by the Omicron variant.

Despite the increase in cases, Duque said, though, that the health utilization rate in the country remains low, attributing it to the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

He said over 95 percent of those contracting the virus amid the increase in cases were only experiencing mild symptoms, which can already be managed under home quarantine.

He said most of the severe and critical cases were unvaccinated.

Duque urged mild Covid-19 cases to make use of teleconsultation and telemedicine to avoid the crowding of hospitals, which are allocated for severe and critical cases.

The Inter-Agency Task Force has approved the Department of Health-proposed shortened quarantine for the general public.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario said they will issue guidelines on the matter in the following days.

As earlier discussed by Vergeire, she said probable cases with symptoms or mild cases who were fully vaccinated will be required to undergo a seven-day quarantine period with the day of onset of symptoms as their first day, while 10-day isolation from the onset of symptoms for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals.

Asymptomatic cases who were fully vaccinated shall undergo isolation for seven days with the date of the release of their positive RT-PCR test being their first day, while 10 days for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.

Moderate cases will be isolated for 10 days from the onset of symptoms regardless of their vaccination status.

For severe and critical cases, the DOH set the required quarantine period to 21 days, with the first day of symptoms as their first day, regardless of their vaccination status.

Immunicompromised individuals will also have to undergo isolation for the same period of time with the date of the release of their positive RT-PCR test being their first day. (SunStar Philippines)