Philippines reports Omicron COVID variant spreads

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Philippines reports Omicron COVID variant spreads

A woman receives a booster shot of the Pfizer coronaviruses COVID 19 vaccine at a drive-through vaccine site in Manila, Philippines, January 14, 2022. REUTERS Lisa Marie David

MANILA, January 15, Reuters - The Philippine health ministry confirmed the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant around Manila on Saturday, as infections hit a record high for a third consecutive day.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said community transmission of the Omicron variant is being seen in the capital region.

The region is a 16 city area of 16 million people and has more than 13 million people.

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

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

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