The island province of Catanduanes could have recorded no new COVID-19 in the last week of 2021 had it not been for that lone case on Dec. 30, a 48 year-old symptomatic woman from San Isidro Village, Virac who has been quarantined.
Likewise, the fewest number of active cases in months was set at just four (4) on Dec. 29, which promptly went back to five (5) the next day.
However, the tracker map indicated six actives: Virac (1), Caramoran (3) and Panganiban (2).
The bad news, however, is that the dreaded, highly-transmissible Omicron variant of concern is already in Bicol.
In a press release on Dec. 31, 2021, the Department of Health Bicol Center for Health Development (DOH Bicol CHD) said that two cases of Omicron were detected in Camarines Sur, which is just an hour’s boat ride from the western coastline of Catanduanes.
The first case is a 27 year-old female from Bombon who works at a private office in Manila. Identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, she was tested on Dec. 14, which yielded a positive result the following day. The patient, who was asymptomatic and fully vaccinated with Sinovac, has been tagged as recovered, the DOH stated.
The second case is a 46 year-old female school staff member in Tigaon, who was initially positive for Delta and upon repeat test, the result yielded positive for Omicron. She developed mild signs and symptoms on Nov. 16, 2021 and was tagged as recovered on Dec. 6.
This second case, who had been jabbed with the first dose of Sinovac, has no known history of travel abroad or in Manila.
This indicates that she got the virus through local or community transmission, which means there could be a lot more Omicron variant cases out there in the mainland or even here in Catanduanes.
According to DOH-CHD 5, the COVID-19 B.1.1.529, or Omicron, was categorized by the World Health Organization as a Variant of Concern due to its having the ability to spread faster than the original COVID-19 strain.
Experts from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
In a Jan. 2, 2022 press release, the DOH said Omicron cases have been documented to be mild, especially among those vaccinated and boosted.
But people who experience mild symptoms can easily transmit the virus when Minimum Public Health Standards are not diligently followed, especially the proper wearing of face masks, sanitizing hands and refraining from attending social gatherings.
It advised those who get exposed or have mild symptoms to isolate for 10 days from symptom onset (if symptomatic) or from the time the test was taken (if asymptomatic).
Those exposed to a suspect or confirmed COVID-19 case should automatically quarantine for seven (7) days (if vaccinated) or for 14 days (if not vaccinated), it stressed.
It strongly advised unvaccinated individuals to have themselves inoculated, while those who have received their first dose are advised to receive their second dose to be fully-vaccinated. Booster shots are also highly encouraged. Vaccines remain effective in protecting oneself from severe symptoms and death brought about by COVID-19 and its variants, it said.
Local government units have been directed to heighten case detection and identification of clusters through active case finding, and immediate isolation of suspects and their contacts.
They were also urged to consider stricter border control and the strengthening of local response, particularly the implementation of the zoning containment strategy in areas with reported cases.
MAKING TEA. A little girl made a cup of tea for her mother.
“I didn’t know you could make tea,” said Mom, taking a sip.
“Yes, I boiled some water, added the tea leaves like you do, and then strained it into a cup. But I couldn’t find the strainer, so I used the fly swatter.”
“What!” exclaimed the mother, choking on her tea.
“Oh, don’t worry. I didn’t use the new fly swatter. I used the old one.”