CEBU CITY - A Department of Health (DOH) official in Region 7 on Wednesday said there is no reason to panic and hoard medicines amid reports of 22 confirmed cases of the Omicron coronavirus disease (Covid-19) variant in Central Visayas.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-7 chief pathologist, said in a presser there is already community transmission of the Omicron variant in the region as five out the 22 cases confirmed by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) are from community samples, while 10 are from overseas Filipino workers, six from the returning Filipino overseas, and one from a foreign national.
She said people are swarming the drugstores to buy medicines for fever, cough and cold over reports of the presence of Omicron. She noted that pharmacies in Cebu are running out of these medicines, along with those in other regions including the National Capital Region.
"We really don't have medicines in our drugstores. We run out of supply. But we have a meeting with distributors and suppliers, including pharmaceutical associations. We are assured that between January 20 and 25, we should be able to monitor the arrival of supply replenishment," Loreche said.
She also advised people who are suffering from flu-like illness to buy generic drugs, even as she warned against "fly by night medicines" that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
She also urged those who are sick to try alternative therapy such as drinking lots of water, ginger tea or calamansi juice, as well as having a sponge batch with lukewarm water to control body temperature.
More samples for sequencing
Dr. Eugenia Mercedes Canal, DOH-7 cluster head of the Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (RESU)-Region 7, reported that they sent additional 221 coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) samples to the PGC for genomic sequencing.
The test would determine if there are more cases of the Omicron variant present in Cebu and its three neighboring provinces in Central Visayas.
The second batch of specimens submitted for genomic sequencing was collected from January 7-14 following the discovery of the first 22 Omicron cases out of 78 specimens from the region collected from Dec. 27, 2021 to Jan. 6, 2022.
Loreche told the Philippine News Agency in a message that all persons tested positive for Omicron have been released from the isolation facility after completing the 14-day quarantine period.
Further surge in cases possible
Loreche said the presence of the Omicron variant in Central Visayas may further cause a surge in Covid-19 cases in the coming days, as she noted the aftermath of Typhoon Odette as a contributing factor.
"We can expect post-holiday surge. After the Sinulog, we can start counting 14 days because that's the incubation period. Before the end of this month or first week of February, we may have more cases than we are having it now," she said.
The DOH-7 official said the people should go back to the basics in fighting Covid-19 including the proper wearing of face masks, physical distancing, washing of hands, and staying at home.
On Tuesday, the DOH-7 reported a total of 8,091 active Covid-19 cases in Central Visayas, after detecting 1,406 new infections in just one day. Five of these patients died from the disease.
Of the total active cases, about 46 percent or 3,709 are from Cebu City while the others are from Cebu province - 1,841; Lapu-Lapu City - 780; Mandaue City - 723; Bohol - 546; Negros Oriental - 481; and Siquijor - 11. (PNA)