FACT CHECK: Did The Philippines’ Department of Health Publish This Statement Regarding The Omicron Variant?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows a statement issued by the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) regarding the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence the statement is real. The Philippines’ DOH confirmed it did not publish the statement.

Fact Check:

The image bears the DOH logo and the headline “DOH Omicron Alert” across the top. The alleged statement goes on to claim omicron can infect people in as quickly as 20 seconds and is spread by asymptomatic people. It also states that reinfection with the virus is more fatal than the initial infection and recommends people wear masks at all times, even at home.

The statement, however, is not from the DOH. The DOH’s archive of press releases and its “Latest Updates” page include no such statement. A Jan. 16 statement on the verified Facebook and Twitter pages of the agency debunked the statement as fraudulent.

“The Department of Health denounces the card on the right claiming to be a DOH Advisory,” the post begins, before addressing each claim in order, adding that “ACCURATE, TIMELY INFORMATION saves lives!”

The information in the fake alert is a mix of true and false claims. A spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) told AFP that it was “too early” to determine whether omicron took 20 seconds to infect adults and children. (RELATED: Did The U.S. Government Issue This Statement Recommending U.S. Citizens Leave Uganda?)

The average time between re-infection was approximately 63 days, according to a scientific review from the Annals of Medicine and Surgery titled, “The mystery of COVID-19 reinfections.” While ICU admission was higher in cases of re-infection, the increase in severity was slight, according to the review. The World Health Organization’s website notes that both symptomatic and asymptomatic people can spread the virus.

While the Facebook post claims masks should be worn at all times, the Philippines’ government has only mandated the wearing of masks in public places, not at home, according to the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter