Philippines detects more cases of omicron subvariants

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2022 02:16 PM | Updated as of Jul 07 2022 03:43 PM

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (UK B.1.1.7 variant), isolated from a patient sample and cultivated in cell culture. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID
Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (UK B.1.1.7 variant), isolated from a patient sample and cultivated in cell culture. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines has detected 167 more cases of highly-transmissible omicron subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5, the Department of Health said Thursday.

An additional 140 cases of the omicron BA.5, 20 more cases of the BA2.12.1, and 7 more cases of the BA.4 were discovered in the latest whole genome sequencing which ran samples collected from June 29 to July 4, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The latest figures raise the country's total to 233 BA.5 cases, 70 BA.2.12.1 cases, and 10 BA.4 cases, Vergeire said.

Of the 140 BA.5 cases, 99 were from Western Visayas, 21 were from Metro Manila, 7 from Calabarzon, 5 from Ilocos region, and 1 each from the Cordilleras, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, Bicol region, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Midnanao, and 1 from abroad.

Majority or 129 of the cases have recovered, while 4 remain in isolation, and the outcome of the rest were still being verified, according to Vergeire.

Sixteen of the patients were fully vaccinated while 3 were unvaccinated and the status of the remaining cases was still being verified, the spokesperson said.

Two cases were asymptomatic while 13 experienced mild symptoms and the outcome of the remaining 125 were still being verified, Vergeire added.

Meanwhile, of the 20 additional BA.2.12.1 cases, 5 were from Metro Manila, 4 each were from Western Visayas and Calabarzon, 2 from the Cordilleras, 1 from Ilocos region, and 4 were from abroad.

Seventeen patients have recovered while the outcome of the rest was still being verified, Vergeire said.

Nine of the patients experienced mild symptoms while the outcome of the rest was still being verified, according to the spokesperson. Nine were fully vaccinated,1 was unvaccinated and the status of the remaining patients was still being verified, Vergeire said.

Of the 7 more BA.4 cases, 6 were from Bicol region while 1 was from Metro Manila, according to the DOH spokesperson. 

All patients have recovered, of whom 3 were asymptomatic and 3 experienced mild symptoms, she said. The outcome of the remaining patient was still being verified, she added.

Five of the patients were fully vaccinated while 2 were unvaccinated, Vergeire said.

The DOH has yet to identify the exposure and travel history of all patients, Vergeire added.

The health agency does not have enough evidence on whether the subvariants were now transmitted on the community level, the spokesperson said.

"When we declare the levels of transmission in an area kailangan natin ng sapat na ebdiensiya...Marami pa kaming detalye na kulang so kailangan ho mabuo natin, maanalisa," she said.

"Whatever the level of transmission...we just continue implementing and complying with our safety protocols atsaka magpabakuna tayo (and let's get vaccinated)."

The BA.5 has comprised majority of the cases in recent whole genome sequencing but the results might be "biased" as this does not "capture" all COVID cases in the country, Vergeire said.

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