Cases of Omicron subvariant BF.7 detected in PH—DOH

COVID-19 virus

The Omicron subvariant BF.7, which is currently driving the rise in China's Covid-19 cases, is already detected in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday, Dec. 23.

The DOH said that four cases of BF.7 were found in the country based on the latest genome sequencing result conducted by the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC).

"As of current date, only four BF.7 cases have been detected in the country and these cases are being reported under Omicron BA.5," the DOH said in a statement.

Citing the European Centers for Disease Control (ECDC), the DOH said that the BF.7, which is a “sublineage” of the Omicron subvariant BA.5, is still classified as “variant under monitoring.”

The DOH said that a variant under monitoring is “showing signals of transmission advantage compared to other circulating VOC (variant of concern) lineages and has additional genetic changes known or suspected to confer change in epidemiology or fitness advantage.”

The DOH said that the BF.7 was “initially flagged by the researchers due to its potential to be more transmissible than the wild type BA.5 and immune evading properties.”

“However, currently available evidence for BF.7 does not suggest any differences in disease severity and/or clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant,” the DOH said.

“Currently, the subvariant is still reported under BA.5 by the World Health Organization and will remain classified under Omicron until sufficient evidence arises showing that the virus characteristics are significantly different from Omicron. As of current date, only four BF.7 cases have been detected in the country,” it added.

Aside from China, the BF.7 has been detected in other countries such as India, United Kingdom, US, Belgium, Germany, France, and Denmark.

PH current Covid-19 situation

At present, the average number of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines remains below 1,000, the DOH said.

“Nationally, detected Covid-19 cases are at a plateau with 973 average daily cases for the week of December 16 to 22, 2022. This is five percent lower than what was reported last week,” the DOH said.

Healthcare utilization rate also remains under the low-risk classification.

“On Dec. 21, the country recorded a 21.73 percent utilization rate of total available COVID-19 beds; Moreover, severe and critical admissions made up 10.57 percent of total Covd-19 related admissions, including those in the emergency room,” the DOH said.

However, the DOH said that daily cases are projected to increase amid the Christmas season.

“With the expected increase in mobility during the holiday season, projections made by the FASSSTER team estimate daily cases in the country to reach 4,114 by Jan. 15. In this scenario, severe and critical admissions are expected to reach 2,252 admissions by mid-January as well,” it said.


The DOH reminded the public that there are measures that can help prevent cases from increasing.

The DOH put emphasis on the importance of wearing masks, isolating when sick, doubling-up protection via vaccines and boosters, and ensuring good airflow.

It said that these are “measures that we can address and control, rather than focusing on the presence of a transmissible variant.”

“If such factors will be adhered to and implemented by ourselves immediately, decline in cases may be observed sooner,” the DOH said.