'Stealth' omicron more prevalent in latest genome sequencing: DOH

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2022 12:45 PM | Updated as of Jan 27 2022 04:26 PM

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (UK B.1.1.7 variant), isolated from a patient sample and cultivated in cell culture. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick,   Maryland. Credit: NIAID 
Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (UK B.1.1.7 variant), isolated from a patient sample and cultivated in cell culture. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick,Maryland. Credit: NIAID 

MANILA (UPDATED) - A "stealth" omicron subvariant was found to be more prevalent in the latest batch of whole genome sequencing, the Department of Health said Thursday.

The sequencing has detected 618 more omicron variant cases, bringing the country's total to 1,153. Of the newly reported cases, 13 cases remain active, two have died, 560 were tagged as recovered, and the outcome of 43 cases were still being verified, the DOH said.

Both subvariants of omicron, BA.1 and BA.2, or the stealth omicron, were detected in the samples, according to the DOH.

There is "no significant difference" between the two subvariants in terms of transmissibility or severity of disease, the health agency said.

"The DOH shall continue to investigate why BA.2 has become more prevalent than BA.1 but so far the detection of BA.2 does not entail any significant change in the COVID-19 response," it said.

The earliest detection of the BA.2 sub-lineage was on Dec. 31, 2021, it added.

The fresh number of omicron infections include 497 local cases and 121 returning Filipinos, according to the DOH.

The local cases had addresses in the following regions:
- Metro Manila (238 cases)
- Calabarzon (71 cases)
- Ilocos region (30 cases)
- Western Visayas (30 cases)
- Eastern Visayas (28 cases)
- Central Luzon (27 cases)
- Central Visayas (20 cases)
- Cagayan Valley (19 cases)
- Cordillera Administrative Region (13 cases)
- Davao region (10 cases)
- SOCCSKSARGEN (6 cases)
- Bicol region (2 cases) 
- MIMAROPA (2 cases)
- Northern Mindanao (1 case)

Thirty-five more delta variant cases were also found in the whole genome sequencing, bringing the country's total to 8,647.

"Starting this January po, sa atin pong mga local samples, practically po silang lahat omicron," said Philippine Genome Center executive director Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma. 

"Mayroon pa tayong pangilan-ngilan na Delta noong December, pero itong starting po ng January, particularly in the NCR, halos lahat po sa kanila is Omicron na and we also see this pattern in other parts of the country," she said in a televised public briefing. 
 'Stealth' omicron more prevalent in latest genome sequencing: DOH
(Starting this January, out of our local samples, practically all of them are omicron. We had a few Delta in December, but starting this January, particularly in National Capital Region, almost all of them are Omicron and we also see this pattern in other parts of the country.)

The public is urged to complete their primary series of vaccines and get their booster shot, particularly the elderly, the young, and the sick," the DOH reiterated.

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