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An infectious disease expert sounded the alarm as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country continue to climb once again.

“Well, I would say it’s alarming because if you look at the trend, it quickly went up and this is something that we have to really closely monitor,” said Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Unit of San Lazaro Hospital, during an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel on Thursday, Dec. 30.

The increase in cases can be attributed to the holiday-related mobility and the presence of coronavirus variants, said Solante.

“Even with Delta—that is still a threat even with we only have four Omicron variant [cases] that were documented, but Delta alone can still give you this trend of increase in surge of cases,” he said.

Solante believes that the Delta variant remains a vital factor in the increasing number of infections.

“At this moment, it is quite difficult to really say that we have Omicron but I would say this is Delta but we need more data if this is Omicron variant-driven,” he said.

“The next report of the Philippine Genome Center will be very crucial if the Omicron is increasing and at the same time Delta is here—well we have two very high transmissible variants of concern that will probably be driving the cases in the next coming days,” he added.

Solante also agreed with the projection of the Octa Research Group that the number of cases may go up as high as 2,000 to 3,000 daily in the coming days. On Wednesday, Dec. 29, the Philippines logged 889 COVID-19 cases.

“Yes, I also believe in that and I think that’s why we really need to monitor these numbers because we’ve seen this type of trend last year. During the time of [the] surge in March and August—more or less, it’s the same pattern we’ve been experiencing the past surge,” he said.

Solante said that the ability of Omicron “to cause severe infection may not be as high as that compared to Delta.”

“But we have to look at that with caution because if this virus can infect a highly vulnerable population like the elderly, immunocompromised—these are not exempted— even if Omicron variant is not causing severe disease in the younger population, but this can still cause severe disease in this population,” he said.

“Second, if most of these infections are symptomatic and they will be going to the hospitals, then this can overwhelm the healthcare facilities. These are the aspects that we are looking at now if Omicron variant will be here—we will have a lot of these cases, our healthcare facility can still be overwhelmed,” he added.

“We may not have the more severe cases or oxygen requiring or ICU utilization but again the healthcare facility can still be overwhelmed because of consultations, admissions of those who will be infected,” he furthered.

Source: Manila Bulletin (