Omicron subvariant BA.5 detected in PH—DOH

Published June 3, 2022, 3:00 PM

by Analou de Vera

The Philippines has recorded its first two cases of another Omicron subvariant called BA.5, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the two cases were from Central Luzon.

Vergeire said that both cases have “unknown exposure” as they did not have international travel history. Both of them were fully vaccinated and have received their booster shots.

“Sa kasalukuyan, unknown ang naging exposure ng mga ito dahil maliban sa pagpunta sa election precinct at opisina nila dito sa National Capital Region, wala pong travel history ang dalawang indibidwal (Currently, their exposure is unknown because apart from going to the election precinct and in their office located in the National Capital Region, the two individuals have no travel history),” she said.

The two cases began to experience symptoms on May 15 and started their home isolation on May 16 until May 30, said Vergeire.

“Both individuals manifested colds and cough as symptoms. They are now asymptomatic and tagged as recovered,” Vergeire reported.

“Identified close contacts are household members who are undergoing isolation; one tested positive, the other, negative,” she added.

Earlier, the DOH also confirmed the presence of other Omicron subvariants: BA.2.12, BA.2.12.1, and BA.4. These variants are said to be more transmissible than the original Omicron variant.

“Makikita na hindi nakakadulot ng kritikal at malubha ang panibagong variants at halos pareho lang characteristics ng BA.5 at BA.4 (It can be seen that the new variants do not cause critical and serious (disease) and BA.5 and BA.4 almost have the same characteristics),” said Vergeire.

Slight increase in cases

Amid this development, Vergeire said the DOH is also seeing a slight increase in Covid-19 cases recently. However, the Philippines remains under low-risk case classification.

“Kung susuriin ang datos mula sa mga Island groups, may bahagyang pagtaas ng kaso nitong mid-May (If we look at the data from the Island groups, there is a slight increase in cases in mid-May),” said Vergeire.

“Dahil sa kaunting pagtaas ng kaso sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa, nationally, bumagal po ang case decline natin nitong mga nakaraang linggo (Due to the slight increase in cases in the different parts of the country, nationally, our case decline has slowed down in recent weeks),” she added.

The DOH spokesperson said that the average number of Covid-19 cases per day is at 180.

“Sa kabila nito, nananatiling mababa ang Covid-19 cases. Kaya patuloy lang ang pagsasabuhay ng minimum public health standards at magpabakuna para maiwasan ang further transmission at mutation ng virus (Despite this, the number of Covid-19 cases remains low. So we just need to continue following the minimum public health standards and get vaccinated to prevent further transmission and mutation of the virus),” said Vergeire.

The healthcare utilization rate, meanwhile, is at low-risk classification, said Vergeire.