Philippines confirms community transmission of Omicron, cases hit record

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MANILA, Jan 15 (Reuters) – The Philippine health ministry confirmed the local spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant around Manila on Saturday, as infections hit a record high for a third straight day.

“We are seeing community transmission of the Omicron variant in the capital region,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a public briefing.

The region is an urban sprawl of 16 cities home to more than 13 million people.

The community transmission of the Omicron variant is characterised by a steep rise in cases, Vergeire said, adding that infections may peak from the end of this month to mid-February.

The ministry reported 39,004 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, while active cases also hit a record, at 280,813.

With more than 3.16 million cases and nearly 53,000 deaths, the Philippines has the highest COVID-19 infections and casualties in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by William Mallard

Photo – A coffin is displayed in front of a health center to warn residents to stay at home amid coronavirus pandemic crisis in Paranaque city, Metro Manila, Philippines. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

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