Independent research group OCTA expressed concern over a possible surge of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases if the Omicron variant finds its way in the Philippines.
Citing the record-high number of cases in South Africa where the variant of concern was first detected, OCTA research fellow Dr. Guido David said that the country reported 37,875 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 12, 2021 alone.
"This is a new record-high for South Africa. From Nov. 8 to 14, South Africa had an average of 246 new cases. Since then, case jumped to an average of 19,400 over a span of four weeks. The average weekly growth rate over that period was more than 200 percent," David said in a Twitter post on Tuesday, Dec. 14.
"The reproduction number in South Africa increased from 0.48 to as high as 4.18, with a current value of 2.96. This is higher than the reproduction number during the Delta surge," he added.
In comparison, David said that the seven-day average in the Philippines is 236, from Dec. 7 to 13, with a reproduction number of 0.14.
Vaccine coverage in the Philippines is 36 percent, while it is currently at 25 percent in South Africa.
"Although vaccine coverage in the Philippines is significantly higher compared to South Africa, the Omicron variant, if it enters the country's borders, will likely trigger a serious surge of new cases in the Philippines," David said.
"The bright side is that, based on the information we have at this time, most of the cases will be mild or asymptomatic," he added.
In July 2021, OCTA also observed a serious surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, particularly in Metro Manila, due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.