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MANILA, Jan 8 (Mabuhay) — An infectious disease expert on Saturday said there might already be community transmission of the more transmissible omicron variant, as the country is seeing a spike of new infections just after the holidays.

“Sa situation natin (in our situation), with the enormous number of people being positive with just a short duration of time, and most of them manifesting with an upper respiratory tract symptom, then I can say there is already a community transmission of omicron variant,” Dr. Rontgene Solante said in a televised public briefing.

The Department of Health (DOH) has already detected local cases of the omicron variant, which is behind the surge of new infections in the US and parts of Europe.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), community transmission happens when connections between local infections could no longer be established through the positive test results of routine sampling.

The agency, however, has yet to announce that the community transmission of the said variant of concern is already happening. There has been 43 omicron variant cases detected in the country as of Jan. 6.

The Philippines is experiencing a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases, as the country emerges from the holiday season.

An uptick in coronavirus cases earlier prompted government to place Metro Manila and nearby Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal provinces under Alert Level 3, which bans face-to-face classes, contact sports, funfairs, and casinos.

On Friday, the DOH confirmed nearly 22,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest in over 3 months.

The omicron variant seems to inflict milder symptoms on patients but is more transmissible than the delta variant, according to Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the DOH technical advisory group. (MNS)

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