MANILA — The Philippines has detected 44 new cases of omicron COVID-19 subvariants, according to the Department of Health.
Based on the agency's latest biosurveillance report, 19 were classified as BA.2.3.20, 1 case as BN.1, 4 as BA.5 including a case of BQ.1, 8 as XBB and 12 as other omicron subvariants.
The samples were processed by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center on Jan. 18, the DOH said.
All additional BA.2.3.20 cases were local cases from regions 1, 3, and 4A, while all XBB cases were from regions 1, 3, 9, and NCR, the report showed.
The recently detected BN.1 case was a returning overseas Filipino (ROF), according to the DOH.
Meanwhile, of the 4 BA.5 cases detected, 3 were local cases from Region 3 and CAR, and the remaining case was an ROF, the agency added.
While previous "variants of concern" like alpha and delta eventually petered out, omicron and its sublineages have dominated throughout 2022.
All omicron variants tend to have a milder disease course as they settle less in the lungs and more in the upper nasal passages, causing symptoms like fever, tiredness, and loss of smell.
Based on the report, the BA.5 is still the dominant strain in the Philippines, with 12,663 cases.
It is followed by BA.2.3.20 with 3,920 cases, XBB with 969 cases, XBC with 611 cases, and BA.4 with 325 cases.
The DOH also detected 40 BA.2.75 cases, 20 BQ.1 cases, 7 BF.7 cases and 5 BN.1 cases.
— With reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse