The Omicron variant (variant B.1.1.529) is a variant of SARS-CoV-2 or the virus that causes COVID-19. It was first detected in November 2021 in South Africa and has since rapidly spread all over the world, including in the Philippines where a few cases have been detected as of December 30, 2021.
Early reports suggest that Omicron is highly contagious and transmissible. Moreover, according to the World Health Organization, "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.”
Vaccination, including having booster doses, continue to have a protective effect against Omicron, if not from infection them from severe disease. Thus, it remains key in protecting one’s self from the Omicron variant. Moreover, the DOH stresses the importance of continued adherence to public health measures: "With the detection of the imported cases of Omicron variant, the Department also urges everyone to adhere to the minimum public standards and properly wear face masks, frequently wash hands with soap and water or alcohol, observe physical distancing, ensure proper ventilation, and avoid crowded areas. Moreover, this holiday season, the public should avoid holding mass gatherings to curb the transmission of COVID-19. The DOH also urges those unvaccinated to get vaccinated during the National Vaccination Days to receive the additional protection that vaccines provide against COVID-19."