Ninety percent of the latest batch of the country’s sequenced samples contained the Omicron Covid-19 variant, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Monday.

Asked by President Rodrigo Duterte if Omicron had become the dominant variant in the country, Duque said yes.

“Ang Omicron ngayon sa latest run, iyon pong pagsasailalim ng mga specimen sa genome
sequencing, tumaas na po. Halos more than 90 percent ang Omicron variant na po ang natutuklasan sa pamamagitan ng whole genome sequencing,” Duque said.

To date, the country has confirmed 43 cases of Omicron: 21 local cases and 22 from international travelers.

Duque said Covid-19 cases in the country were starting to plateau, but it was too early to say if the cases would trend downward.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said that there was local transmission of the Omicron variant in Metro Manila.

While some scientists believe that Omicron is the beginning of the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, some have raised concern about how the highly infectious variant could overwhelm the healthcare systems of countries with low vaccination numbers.

Duque said the Omicron variant, with its high transmissibility, was more likely to cause breakthrough infections than other variants.

“Kahit na bakunado ka, puwede ka pa rin mahawaan ng Omicron. Pero ang kagandahan sa bakuna effective pa rin siya laban sa severe and critical Covid infection. E ‘yun naman po talaga ang halaga ng bakuna,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro