MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines has detected 3 additional cases of omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, raising its tally to 4, according to the Department of Health.
The 3 local XBB.1.16 cases were found in Western Visayas, the DOH's latest COVID-19 biosurveillance report showed.
XBB.1.16, also known as "Arcturus," is a descendent lineage of XBB, a recombinant of two BA.2 descendent lineages.
The DOH previously said the strain is capable of evading immunity and appears to be more contagious than previous variants.
In a statement, the health department said there is a local transmission of XBB.1.16 "since there is an increasing number of cases of the variant with no linkages to international cases or no known history of exposure".
The agency added that DOH COVID-19 cases continued to increase, with a daily average of 1,533 cases as of May 10, which is 75 percent higher from last week.
This is similar to the number of cases reported on July 11, 2022, with 1,506 cases per day, it added.
The agency also detected 197 new cases of omicron subvariants.
Of the figure, 156 were classified as XBB, which include 72 XBB.1.9.1 cases, 35 XBB.1.5 cases and 13 XBB.1.9.2 cases; 27 as BA.2.3.20; 1 case as BA.5; and 13 as other omicron sublineages.
Of the recently detected XBB cases, 2 were returning overseas Filipinos while 154 were local cases from regions 1, 2, 3, 4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, CAR, and NCR, the DOH said.
Meanwhile, the additional BA.5 case was a local case from NCR, and additional BA.2.3.20 cases detected were from Regions 1, 2, 4A, 6, 7, 11, Caraga, and NCR.
These are results of the latest sequencing run conducted by San Lazaro Hospital and the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center from April 26 to May 6, the DOH said.
The WHO designated the XBB.1.16 as a variant of interest or VOI in April following a sustained increase in its prevalence. It has so far spread to dozens of countries.
As of May 11, the country has 13,964 active COVID-19 cases, the DOH's COVID-19 Tracker showed.
Of some 4.1 million infections logged since the start of the pandemic, 66,453 led to death.
— With a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News