COVID-19 reinfection dulot ng Omicron variant, posible – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   November 29, 2021   •   270

MANILA, Philippines – Mas mataas umano ang tiyansa ng COVID-19 reinfection sa Omicron variant kumpara sa ibang coronavirus variants of concern, ayon sa World Health Organization (WHO).

Sa update ukol sa bagong variant, sinabi ng WHO na ang mga taong naka-recover na mula sa COVID-19 ay may mataas na tiyansang muling mahawa nito.

Gayunman, sinabi ng ahensiya na nananatiling limitado ang impormasyon at patuloy pa ang ginagawang pag-aaral ukol sa nasabing COVID-19 variant.

“Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (.ie. people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited,” ang wika ng WHO.

“More information on this will become available in the coming days and weeks,” dagdag pa nito.

Hindi rin pa malinaw sa ngayon kung mas transmissible o mas nakakahawa ang variant na ito kumpara sa Delta COVID-19 variant at iba pang naunang strain bagaman dumarami na ang kaso nito sa iba’t ibang bansa.

Unang na-detect ang variant na ito sa South Africa at ngayo’y napaulat na rin sa iba’t ibang bansa.

“The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors,” ang pahayag ng WHO.

“Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available,” dagdag pa nito.

Batay rin sa inisyal na datos, tumataas rin ang hospitalization sa South Africa ngunit hindi pa masabi kung ito ay dahil sa Omicron variant. Patuloy rin pang inaalam ng mga dalubhasa kung mas matindi nga ba ang sintomas na mararanasang isang tao kapag naging carrier ng ganitong variant.

“Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron,” ang wika ng WHO.

“Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks,” dagdag pa nito.

Ayon sa WHO, maaari pa rin namang gamitin ang RT-PCR tests para ma-detect kung infected ng COVID-19 variants ang isang indibiduwal.

“The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.”

Ongoing rin anila ang assessment sa bisa ng mga ginagamit na gamot sa mga pasyenteng may severe COVID-19 infection.

Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.

Sa ngayon, sinabi ng WHO na nakikipag-ugnayan na sila sa mga eksperto at researcher upang maunawaan ang galaw at behavior ng Omicron variant at ang posibleng epekto nito sa mga umiiral na hakbang laban sa COVID-19

Pero giit ng ahensiya, epektibo pa rin ang available vaccine products para maiwasan ang severe COVID-19 infection na maaaring humantong sa kamatayan.

“WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines,” ang pahayag ng WHO.

“Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death,” dagdag pa nito.

Inirerekomenda naman ng WHO sa mga bansa na lalong paigtingin ang genome sequencing sa mga samples na nagpositibo sa COVID-19; agad isapubliko o iulat ang mga naitalang kaso, at magsagawa ng field investigations at laboratory assessments upang mas maunawaan ang epekto ng Omicron sa bisa ng diagnostics, gamot, at mga bakuna kontra COVID-19.

Immigration bureau bars NAIA personnel from going on leave until Jan. 31

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been barred from taking vacation leaves until the end of January to maximize its manpower at the premiere port, an official from the agency said.

In a statement, Atty. Carlos Capulong, BI Port Operations Division (POD) Chief, said a directive has been issued extending up to January 31 the period within which immigration personnel at the NAIA are banned from going on leaves.

The said ban, which started last December 16 before the 2021 holiday break, was supposed to lapse last January 15.

Capulong said the ban on filing vacation leaves has been extended for two more weeks as the number of BI officers at the airport infected with COVID-19 has soared in the past few days.

He stressed the directive was necessary to ensure unhampered airport operations amid increasing number of immigration personnel who tested positive for the virus or are in quarantine.

“No application for leave during this period will be entertained or approved, and all filed leaves are hereby cancelled to ensure that we have enough personnel to service the traveling public,” Capulong said.

The BI said that as of Monday, January 17, a total of 138 BI-POD personnel have tested positive for the virus. An additional 129 employees remain on quarantine while waiting for the results of their swab tests.

On the other hand, 99 other personnel tested negative and have already returned to work.

Last week, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued an advisory downgrading its office operations to 30% worksite capacity due to the spike in COVID-19 infections in its offices.

 

Absences of gov’t workers due to COVID-19 considered excused – CSC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The absence from work of government personnel due to COVID-19 quarantine, isolation, or treatment will now be considered excused, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the CSC said the policy is contained in the amended interim guidelines on the use of leave credits for absences due to coronavirus infections.

The agency said that under Memorandum Circular 2, s. 2022 dated January 18, absence from work for every instance of the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment for government workers who are “infected or identified as close contacts of a suspect, probable, and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 while in the performance of their official functions, (onsite or WFH arrangement)” shall be considered as excused absence.

“They may be required to adopt a work-from-home arrangement depending on the nature of their work” pursuant to the guidelines on alternative work arrangements contained in the memorandum, the CSC said.

Previously, this provision only applied to public health workers, it added.

The CSC said excused absence refers to the period when a government worker is not required to report for work due to required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment, and/or announcement of work suspension, but are entitled to pay.

The required quarantine period refers to the prevailing number of days required for a person to undergo quarantine, or separation and restriction of movement while waiting for swab tests results or if the person will become sick.

Meanwhile, the isolation period refers to the separation of a person who is sick with a contagious disease for purposes of treatment and monitoring.

“Absences incurred from undergoing the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment after official travel from countries with or without localized COVID-19 transmissions or from local areas under community quarantine are considered excused absences,” the CSC said.

“For personal travel, only the required quarantine period may be excused, while the isolation and/or treatment period shall be charged against leave credits,” it added.

Absence from work for every instance of the required quarantine period for government workers who are “infected or identified as close contacts of a suspect, probable, and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 due to personal activities” shall also be considered an excused absence.

“In both categories, the employees may also be required to adopt a work-from-home arrangement while they are awaiting swab test results or completing the required quarantine period,” the CSC said.

“However, in the event that they become sick, the period of their isolation and/or treatment shall be considered sick leave and charged against their leave credits,” it added.

The agency noted that absences incurred from undergoing the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment after personal international travel without approved travel authority before or after the declaration of a state of public health emergency due to COVID-19 shall be charged against leave credits.

Absences incurred from undergoing the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment due to personal activities in violation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging and Infectious Diseases’ protocols, shall also be charged against leave credits, it added.

When returning to work, employees will be required to submit their application for leave, and applicable documents, including certificate of completion of quarantine, medical certificate clearing them to report back to work, and medical records showing COVID-19 treatment.

PH’s first 2 Omicron deaths were unvaccinated elderlies with co-morbidities – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has reported two fatalities linked to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The DOH said the two death cases were “aged more than 60 years, unvaccinated, and had pre-existing medical conditions.”

“Both were detected during the latest whole genome sequencing,” the agency said in a message to reporters.

The two patients were from Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

These are the first reported fatalities among those infected with Omicron in the country, it added.

The DOH stressed that while the Omicron variant mostly presents with asymptomatic and mild disease, data showed that the elderly, those with comorbidities, and unvaccinated are still most at risk for fatalities.

The health department also reported that 492 more Omicron cases have been detected in the Philippines based on the latest whole genome sequencing involving 714 samples.

The newly reported Omicron cases are composed of 332 local cases and 160 returning overseas Filipinos.

The indicated addresses of the said cases were from the following areas:

  • National Capital Region with 227 cases
  • CALABARZON with 76 cases
  • Central Luzon with 11 cases
  • Central Visayas with 5 cases
  • Cagayan Valley with 2 cases
  • Western Visayas, with 2 cases
  • Davao Region with 2 cases
  • Soccsksargen with 2 cases
  • Cordillera Administrative Region with 2 cases
  • Ilocos Region with 1 case
  • MIMAROPA with 1 case
  • Bangsamoro region with 1 case

The DOH said that based on the case line list, three cases are still active, 467 cases have been tagged as recovered, while there are 20 cases whose outcomes are still being verified.

This brings the total number of confirmed Omicron variant cases in the country to 535.

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