MANILA – The Department of Health said on Saturday it was too early to declare a local transmission of the COVID-19 omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant in the country.
"Kailangan po natin ng enough evidence para po maipakita natin at ma-analyze natin kung talagang meron na tayong local transmission," DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a public briefing.
The Health Department said on Friday that it detected 14 cases of omicron BA.2.12.1, with two in Metro Manila and 12 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
The two cases detected in the National Capital Region had no recent travel history outside the country.
"These two cases are related, sila po ay walang history of travel, kaya po atin inaalam po talaga ngayon kung ano po talaga ang pinagmulan," Vergeire said. "Although they had this travel kung saan doon po sila nagpabakuna doon sa kanilang probinsya tapos bumalik po sila dito sa NCR."
But the DOH assured the public that all omicron BA.2.12.1 cases have been successfully isolated, all the way back to the first patient who showed symptoms on April 22 in Palawan.
Vergeire also said that there was no surge in infectious detected in the areas where the patients were first discovered, with the country registering an average of 146 new COVID-19 infections between May 6 to May 12.
This is compared to an average daily rate of 254 new cases in December last year, before an omicron-fueled surge in cases in January.
The DOH spokesperson added that the best protection against the more contagious omicron subvariant was adherence to public health protocols, such as wearing face masks and following social distancing rules.
She also called on Filipinos to get booster shots against COVID-19, noting that those who were vaccinated against the virus showed only mild symptoms even when they were infected with omicron BA.2.12.1.
"Ayaw natin i-alarma ang mga tao. Ang gusto natin patuloy tayo mag-ingat," Vergeire said. "We are all aware that there is this variant circulating in the country dahil alam po natin na mas nakakapanghawa at saka nae-escape niya yung immunity."
The DOH aims to fully vaccinate around 77 million Filipinos against COVID-19 by the end of June.