Philippines detects 5 more cases of omicron BA.2.12.1 in Western Visayas

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2022 03:22 PM | Updated as of Jun 01 2022 01:30 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Philippines has detected 5 new cases of the omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant in Western Visayas, bringing the total nationwide to 22, the Department of Health said Tuesday.

Two of the patients were local cases who are fully vaccinated individuals from the same household, according to Dr. Beverly Ho, concurrent director of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau and Health Promotion Bureau.

The remaining 3 patients were fully vaccinated returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) with a travel history from the US and who also reside in the same household, Ho added.

A total of 7 close contacts--2 from the local cases and 5 from the ROFs--were reported, according to Ho. All patients and their close contacts have completed their isolation and are now considered as recovered, she said.

Of the total 22 BA.2.12.2 subvariant cases, 4 were ROFs and 18 were locally acquired, including 2 that were detected in Metro Manila, 12 in Puerto Princesa City, and 4 in Western Visayas. 

Meanwhile, the reported omicron BA.4 patient who arrived in the country on May 4 has recovered, Ho said. The DOH is still verifying the vaccination status and testing details of his close contacts, she added. 

The Philippines' first case of the more infectious subvariant had traveled from the Middle East, the DOH earlier said. 

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Sixteen individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan this month after 1 foreigner showed mild symptoms and was isolated on May 17, according to Ho.

The foreign traveler was on a yacht with 23 foreigners and 20 Filipino crew on board, Ho said. The tourist's 31 close contacts--composed of 17 foreigners and 14 Filipinos--were transported to a quarantine facility on the same day as the patient, she added.

All were retested using RT-PCR from May 20 to 23, which yielded 16 positive results, including 5 who were positive on self-administered antigen test, according to Ho.

Of the total figure, 6 experienced mild symptoms while 10 were asymptomatic, she said. Fifteen were fully vaccinated and 1 was partially vaccinated, she added.

Five of the patients have been discharged while all close contacts are in quarantine facilities, Ho said.

Of the 16, 13 were eligible for genome sequencing, the results of which are expected "this week or next week," she added.

In the latest genome sequencing conducted on May 21, 68 percent or 21 cases were omicron, 3 were delta, and 7 had no lineage assigned, according to Ho. 

As of May 26, the delta variant comprises 30 percent of 28,707 samples with assigned lineages, Ho said. Some 26 percent of the total figure is composed of the omicron variant, she added.

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It is important to get fully vaccinated and boosted as several patients with BA.2.12.1 received their primary doses, according to Dr. Alethea de Guzman, head of the DOH epidemiology bureau.

"Ang ating bakuna ay sabihin na natin di siya transmission blocking," she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo. "Ang bakuna ay nagbibigay satin ng protection against severe and critical disease."

(Our vaccines are not transmission blocking. These give us protection against severe and critical disease.)

More than 70.85 million people have been fully vaccinated, some 14 million of whom have received their first booster dose as of Sunday, the DOH website showed. Around 142,000 people have been given second booster shots.

Of the fully vaccinated population, 6.7 million are elderly, 9 million are immunocompromised persons, 2.7 million are children ages 5 to 11, and 9.4 million are teens, according to Ho.