DOH identifies 44 close contacts of 1st Omicron sub-variant case

HEALTH authorities have identified at least 44 close contacts of the country’s first case of Omicron BA.2.12 sub-lineage, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday, April 28, 2022.DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the case has 30 “near cases” in the airplane that brought her to the Philippines, nine close contacts in Quezon City and five in Benguet.She said these close contacts have been placed under close monitoring by the DOH and their respective local government units.“We were able to see that most of them were fully vaccinated. Some were tested and negative. Nobody is experiencing symptoms as of this time,” Vergeire said in a television interview.The first case was a female from Finland who arrived in the country last April 2 and conducted seminars in Quezon City and Baguio City.She was fully vaccinated and only experienced symptoms, such as headache and sore throat, nine days after her arrival.She underwent a seven-day isolation and returned to her country on April 21.Surge imminentIn Cebu, an official of DOH’s Central Visayas office said while the Omicron BA.2.12 sub-lineage has not reached the region yet, surges from other Covid-19 variants of concern could still occur if people would relax their adherence to minimum public health standards such as wearing of masks amid the easing of restrictions.Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7’s chief pathologist, told SunStar Cebu that possible surges may not necessarily be caused by the said sub-variant but also by other variants of concern, including the original Sars-CoV-2 strain.Loreche has issued such statement, as she noted the openness of borders and mass gatherings that have been happening these days.Aside from failing to adhere to minimum public health measures, Loreche cited other possible factors for a potential surge such as the decrease in interest to be tested for Covid-19 and the growing disinterest in getting vaccinated.The chief pathologist, however, said the Covid-19 cases in Central Visayas, particularly in Cebu, has so far remained low.Despite this, Loreche has reiterated the importance of surveillance and monitoring as people continue to live with the virus.“This is a shared responsibility — both the [local] government [unit] and the people themselves, adding that the LGU ensures that the guidelines are implemented while the people takes accountability of their actions.The BA.2.12, which is currently causing a Covid-19 case surge in the United States, is still being studied by the World Health Organization. (TPM, MKG / SunStar Philippines)