Press Release| February 2, 2022.

The Department of Health Eastern Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH EVCHD) confirms that a total of 51 new cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the region thru the report received from the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health. With this recent addition, there are now a total of 79 cases of the Omicron Variant identified and tagged in the region.

49 cases of this turnout are still from the same set of 90 samples sent to the Philippine Genome Center on the first week of January, 2022 while the other two (2) cases of the Omicron Variant were tested in molecular laboratories outside the region.

Of the 51 new cases, 12 are from the province of Leyte- three cases in Tanauan, two cases in Baybay and Tolosa, and one case each in Palo, Carigara, Jaro, Matalom, and Isabel, another 11 cases are tagged in Tacloban City, nine (9) cases are from Ormoc City, eight (8) cases in Northern Samar- four from Catarman, three from Mondragon, and one from Pambujan, seven (7) Omicron variant cases in Western Samar– four in Catbalogan, and one case each in San Jorge, San Sebastian, and Paranas, and four (4) cases are from Southern Leyte– three (3) of which are from Hinunangan, and one from Maasin.

All mentioned Omicron cases are considered to be locally transmitted, except for three cases of Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF) from Ormoc City, Isabel, and Maasin.

A series of stringent investigation is currently being conducted by the DOH EVCHD Surveillance Team to determine further details linked to the cases including the vaccination status, case age range, and close contacts up to the third generation for case monitoring, surveillance, and for the case profiling of this set.

The DOH EVCHD stresses the importance of active case monitoring, surveillance, and contact tracing of all confirmed cases in order to control and contain any possible case of further transmission.

Following the detection of cases with variants of concern, it is of essence that the intensified implementation of the Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment, Reintegration strategies across all settings, stricter border control, and proper adherence to the minimum public health standards must be observed. The DOH EVCHD reiterates that whole genome sequencing, or the comprehensive method used to determine other variants of concern, is conducted to guide the overall response strategies of the government and to determine if variants are causing spike in cases, and thus should not be used as point-of-care strategies. Regardless of the presence of a variant of concern, the management and interventions for these cases remain the same.

The DOH EVCHD reaffirms that as vaccination efforts are escalated, the public is reminded that vaccines are effective in reducing morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19, which will be very instrumental in the institution’s primary goal of saving lives.