MANILA (UPDATE)- The Philippines has detected omicron BA.4 from a Filipino who traveled from the Middle East last May 4, the Department of Health said Saturday.
The asymptomatic patient's positive test result for the subvariant was from a specimen collected on May 8, according to the DOH.
The health agency said it has been coordinating with the concerned local governments since confirmation of the case.
Details were not immediately made available regarding the Pinoy's travel history, whether the person was a returning tourist or worker, and where the individual went in quarantine.
All local governments are strongly advised to seek the unvaccinated and those eligible for boosters, and to make getting inoculated more convenient, the DOH said.
The public is strongly advised to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible and to continue following health protocols, the DOH added.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has classified BA.4 as a variant of concern (VOC), which means the virus can be more transmissible or "cause worse illness."
Based on studies however, it may not cause severe COVID-19 symptoms compared to other omicron subvariants but can potentially overwhelm hospitals again because of its transmissibility.
"We must be careful because faster transmission will lead to a spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals and clinics," said the health department.
Research group OCTA this week noted a spike in average daily COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region from May 13 to 19, from 59 cases the week before to 79 average daily cases.
This is a 17 percent increase, according to the research group.
The increase in some indicators have not affected the region’s risk level which remains to be low.
-- With a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News