PH records 1st case of Omicron subvariant BA.4

Published May 21, 2022, 3:33 PM

by Analou de Vera


Another Omicron subvariant called BA.4 has entered the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Saturday, May 21.

The country’s first Omicron-BA.4 involves a “Filipino citizen who flew in from the Middle East” last May 4, the DOH said in an advisory.

“His positive test result for the subvariant was from a specimen collected on May 8. He was asymptomatic,” it added.

Citing the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the DOH said that this variant is classified as a “variant of concern.”

“Compared to a variant of interest (VOI), a VOC is seen to either spread faster or cause worse illness. BA.4’s faster transmission is likely because of its ability to evade immune protection induced by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this has waned over time,” the DOH said.

“While the ECDC has not observed any change in severity for BA.4 compared to other Omicron subvariants, we must be careful because faster transmission will lead to a spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals and clinics,” the DOH added.

The DOH said it is coordinating with the concerned local government units (LGUs) “since confirmation of the case to rapidly implement detection and isolation activities.”

“Henceforth, all LGUs are strongly advised to proactively seek the unvaccinated and those eligible for boosters, and to make it convenient to get a jab,” the agency said.

“The general public is strongly advised to please get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, and to continue following health protocols: wear your best-fitting mask, isolate when sick, and ensure good airflow,” it added.