MANILA -The Department of Health said Monday it was monitoring the reported "omicron XE" variant detected in Thailand.
The health agency said it was in "constant coordination" with the World Health Organization and the Philippine Genome Center in monitoring case trends and conducting genomic surveillance activities in light of new and existing variants.
"Observation and monitoring are still ongoing on whether the variant would be categorized as a sub-variant of Omicron or a new variant to be named by WHO should it display any significant change in characteristics," it said in a statement.
The XE is recombinant of two sublineages of the Omicron variants, BA.1 and BA.2, but it has three mutations that are not present in their parent sequences, according to the South China Morning Post.
The DOH reminded the public to get vaccinated and boosted, and comply with minimum health standards in preventing transmission and contracting a severe form of the respiratory illness.
Some 12.15 million out of 46.47 million eligible individuals have received a booster shot as of Sunday, the DOH said. A total of 65.99 million persons have been fully vaccinated as of March 31, according to data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
The "stealth" omicron or BA.2 variant prevails globally and locally, comprising majority of locally transmitted cases in the Philippines versus BA.1 variant that was found among returning Filipinos.