Philippines confirms community transmission of Omicron, cases hit record

January 15, 2022 - 5:30 PM
Vendors, truck drivers and other essential workers line up to receive their booster shot at the night market in Divisoria, Manila on Jan. 5, 2022. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

MANILA —The Department of Health confirmed the local spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant around Manila on Saturday, as infections hit a record high for a third straight day.

“We are seeing community transmission of the Omicron variant in the capital region,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a public briefing.

The region is an urban sprawl of 16 cities home to more than 13 million people.

The community transmission of the Omicron variant is characterized by a steep rise in cases, Vergeire said, adding that infections may peak from the end of this month to mid-February.

The DOH reported 39,004 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, while active cases also hit a record, at 280,813.

With more than 3.16 million cases and nearly 53,000 deaths, the Philippines has the highest COVID-19 infections and casualties in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. —Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by William Mallard