The Department of Health (DOH) has announced the presence of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in the country, involving 14 individuals.
“We have detected 14 individuals with BA.2.12.1,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing on Friday, May 13.
Of the 14, Vergeire said two came from Metro Manila, while the other 12 cases were found in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. “Among [the] 12 from Puerto Princesa, 11 [were] foreign nationals and one local case,” said Vergeire, adding that the two cases in Metro Manila were “local” cases.
Vergeire said the two cases in Metro Manila have received their booster shot and only experienced mild symptoms. They already completed home isolation and are now tagged as recovered.
The two cases in Metro Manila have a total of 39 close contacts who are currently asymptomatic, said Vergeire. “Inaalaam natin ngayon ang kanilang vaccination status at status sa kanilang quarantine (We are still determining their vaccination status as well as their quarantine status),” she said.
Meanwhile, the 28 close contacts of the 12 cases in Palawan “all tested negative” for Covid-19 while their health status and vaccination status are still being verified by the DOH.
Vergeire noted that the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 is different from the BA.2.12 subvariant which was first detected in April, involving a Finnish woman.
“What is the difference between the two? May mga unique mutations ang bawat sublianeage na iyan, kaya naiba ang mga numero (Each sub-lineage has unique mutations, that is why there is a difference in their numbers),” said Vergeire.
“In totality, itong dalawang ito pareho silang (both of them are) more transmissible than the original Omicron variant at saka pareho silang may (and they both have a) possibility ng (of) immune escape based from the studies that are coming out,” she added.
Vergeire said that the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 was also detected in other countries such as in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.
Data provided by the DOH noted that both BA.2.12.1 and BA.2.12 are “said to be responsible for the spike in cases and hospitalization in New York in early April.”
“Currently, no evidence suggests that BA.2.12.1 causes more severe disease,” it added.