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1月9日のまにら新聞から

Expert says Omicron community transmission is present

[ 496 words|2022.1.9|英字 (English) ]

By Robina Asido

An infectious disease expert said there is community transmission of the Omicron variant in the country, which is driving daily COVID-19 cases higher.

"With the enormous, I say, enormous number of people being positive with just short duration of time and most of them are manifesting with an upper respiratory tract symptoms, then I would say there is already community transmission of Omicron variant," Rontgene Solante of San Lazaro Hospital said in the ''Laging Handa'' virtual public briefing on Saturday.

The Department of Health (DOH) has not announced a community transmission of the Omicron variant but Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it is better to assume that it is present.

There are 43 cases of the Omicron variant, the DOH said.

"The Omicron variant can be three to five times as highly transmissible as that of Delta. That’s why we are seeing a lot of these positives now, not only in the community, we’re also seeing a lot of these in the health care facilities," Solante said.

"Most of the healthcare facilities now, I would say, one-third to one-half of the total health care manpower are positive with COVID," he added.

Solante said it is hard to predict until when the Omicron variant-fuelled surge of COVID-19 will last.

"Well, it is hard to predict at this point in time. What we know is that this Omicron variant at this point is really causing massive transmission in the community and the only way to predict when the cases will slow down is if we will truly and strictly follow the health protocol," he said.

"The health protocol, the wearing of your face mask and face shield, including observing the physical distancing is the immediate, important aspect ... against getting the infections and follow it also with your vaccination. And given the booster you have and added protection that you will not develop a more severe infection," he added.

Solante said although those who have recovered from Omicron infection may develop protection from reinfection, he noted there is no guarantee they will have lifetime protection against COVID-19 because the virus continues to mutate.

"The fact that this is still a virus and the possibility that if you are infected, you can also still develop severe (illness), then chances are it is hard for us to say we just want to be infected so that we can have a natural immunity," he said.

"The point here is that, even if you are infected with an Omicron variant, it doesn’t mean that you are, in your lifetime, protected against COVID. Because as long as there is mutation, as long as there is community transmission, then you can always get COVID," he added.

Solante noted that the only way to minimize this transmission is "through vaccines".

"We cannot just rely on that when you get infected (you can develop natural immunity). We still have to protect ourselves and we still have to get ourselves vaccinated," he said. DMS