Gov't identifies 44 close contacts of Philippines' first BA.2.12 patient


Posted at Apr 28 2022 10:49 AM | Updated as of Apr 28 2022 03:20 PM

Passengers arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 in Pasay City on Feb. 1, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File
Passengers arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 in Pasay City on Feb. 1, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — At least 44 close contacts of the Philippines' first case of the omicron BA.2.12 subvariant have been identified as of Thursday, the Department of Health said. 

The foreign female patient from Finland had 9 close contacts in Quezon City and 5 close contacts in Benguet, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

All of them are "being closely monitored" while some have been tested and turned out negative, she added.

The DOH also identified 30 "near contacts" of the patient in the airplane, Vergeire said.

"We were able to see most of them were fully vaccinated. Some were tested and negative. Nobody is experiencing symptoms as of this time," she told ANC's Headstart.

The BA.2.12 is a subvariant of omicron that comprises majority of the COVID-19 cases in the US, according to the DOH, citing data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is presently not a variant of interest or variant of concern.

According to the DOH, there were 132 samples sequenced in its latest whole genome sequencing, of which 63 percent or 83 were omicron. The samples came from 10 regions, with one sample from a foreign national.

The samples include the single BA.2.12 case.

The patient was a 52-year-old woman who arrived from Finland last April 2 and did not undergo isolation since she was fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, according to the DOH.

The woman traveled to Quezon City and Baguio City to conduct seminars and experienced mild symptoms after 9 days, the agency said.

After recovering and completing her 7-day isolation, the Finnish woman returned to her home country on April 21, it added.

The woman could have been infected on her journey to the Philippines or when she arrived, Vergeire said.

"We all know there's 14 days incubation of the virus. She might have gotten that during her travel. She arrived here on April 2, she had symptoms on April 10, the 9th day of her infection," she said. 

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Dr. Rio Magpantay, regional director of DOH-Cordillera, said they are closely monitoring the "close contacts" of the Finnish visitor.

"Ditong mga 8 ito, 2 dito ay na-test, negative. Ang the rest, 'yung 6 ay asymptomatic naman. Kasalukuyan pa rin nating tinututukan kung magkakaroon sila ng mga symptoms," he told TeleRadyo.

Based on studies, the new sublineage of omicron is considered highly transmissible but does not appear to cause severe infection, Magpantay said.

Amid the threat of omicron, he said Baguio City had a high vaccination rate.

Data from the city health services office as of April 27 showed that over 286,000 people or 101.98 percent of its eligible population are fully vaccinated. Of the figure, more than 116,000 or 40.55 percent have received their booster shots.

But Magpantay expressed concern about the slow uptake of additional jabs in Cordillera.

So far, only 279,000 have gotten their booster shot in the whole region.

"Yan ang medyo malungkot. Hindi halos tumataas 'yung nagpapa-booster nating kababayan, 'yung fully vaccinated na," he said.

"Even 'yung first booster natin, hindi kami halos umabot ng 30 percent. Kaya isa 'yan sa mga dapat nating bigyan ng atensiyon."

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