'Stealth Omicron' dominant, detected all over the country - PGC

The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) said on Thursday, Jan. 27 that BA.2 or "stealth Omicron" is the dominant sublineage that has caused community transmissions of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

(Photo from the Philippine Genome Center website / MANILA BULLETIN)

In Laging Hand press briefing, PGC Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma gave the latest update on whole genome sequencing of 517 samples, wherein 336 of which were detected with BA.2, 180 were detected with BA.1, and only one was detected with B.1.1.529 or the original Omicron variant.

She stated that based on the data worldwide, the BA.2 sublineage of Omicron is actually occupying a very small percentage of the global samples that have been sequenced, that have been assigned to the Omicron variant lineage.

She adde that BA.1 was mostly detected in international travellers whereas BA.2 was predominant in the National Capital Region (NCR) as well as in Calabarzon. She said that this indicates that the government has been effective in preventing onward transmission of international travellers since BA.1 is the globally prevalent sublineage.

However, she stated that there has been an increasing uptick in COVID-19 cases detected with the BA.2 variable particularly in Denmark, in the UK, in Singapore, and in India as well as here in the Philippines.

Saloma mentioned that for other regions where Omicron has not yet been detected, this does not mean that the variant is not yet there since some of these regions according to her, were not able to submit samples due to problems with transportation.

In terms of the available data, when it comes to symptoms, Saloma said that the two sublineages BA.1 and BA.2 are almost the same in which most of the cases are mild, asymptomatic and cause upper respiratory tract infection.