PH reports first two Omicron deaths, 492 additional cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19)— The country has reported its first two fatalities linked to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Wednesday.

In a message to reporters, the DOH said the patients were both unvaccinated senior citizens who had pre-existing medical conditions.

"Both were detected during the latest whole genome sequencing. Both deaths were aged more than 60 years," the agency added.

The two deaths were logged in Metro Manila and in Central Luzon, it noted.

The DOH stressed that while most Omicron cases present asymptomatic and mild disease, data showed that the elderly, those with underlying illnesses, and those who have yet to get their COVID-19 shots are still at risk.

492 additional cases

Health authorities also detected 492 more cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, comprising over half (68.9%) of the latest samples sequenced (714).

This brought the total to 535.

Of the additional infections, 332 are local cases while 160 are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

The DOH said the local cases had indicated addresses in the following areas:

— Metro Manila (227)

— Calabarzon (76)

— Central Luzon (11)

— Central Visayas (five)

— Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Davao Region, SOCCSKSARGEN, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (two cases each)

— Ilocos Region, Mimaropa, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (one case each)

From the newly-detected Omicron cases, three are still active, 467 have been tagged as recovered, while 20 are still up for verification.

Other variant cases

The latest sequencing run also found 115 new Delta variant cases in the country, raising the total number of infections to 8,612.

Of the additional cases, 88 are local, while 27 are ROFs, DOH noted.

Authorities likewise confirmed one new local Alpha variant patient, who has since been tagged as recovered. The total count for the Alpha variant cases is now at 3,170.

With this development, the DOH again reminded the public to follow health protocols and get vaccines and boosters when they can.