MANILA (2nd UPDATE)- The Philippines has detected 79 more cases of highly transmissible omicron subvariants, the Department of Health said Tuesday.
Government found an additional 60 cases of the omicron BA.5, 17 more cases of the BA2.12.1, and 2 more cases of the BA.4 in the latest whole genome sequencing conducted from July 7 to 11, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
The latest figures raise the country's total to 293 BA.5 cases, 87 BA.2.12.1 cases, and 12 BA.4 cases, Vergeire said.
Of the 60 new BA.5 cases, 58 were from Western Visayas and 1 each was from Davao region and Soccksargen. One patient experienced mild symptoms while the status of the others was still being verified.
Forty-three have recovered while 14 are still undergoing isolation and the outcome of the remaining patients are still being verified, Vergeire said.
One patient was unvaccinated while the vaccination status of the remaining patients was still being verified, she added.
Of the additional 17 more BA2.12.1 cases, 6 were from Western Visayas, 10 from Davao region, and 1 was a returning Filipino, according to the spokesperson.
One suffered from a severe illness, 2 had mild symptoms, 1 was asymptomatic, while the status of the others remains to be verified, Vergeire said. Fifteen have so far recovered, while 2 were still undergoing isolation, she added.
The two additional BA.4 cases were from Davao region and Soccksargen, according to Vergeire. One was fully vaccinated, while the other was unvaccinated, she said. Both had mild symptoms and have since recovered, she added.
The DOH has yet to identify the exposure and travel history of all patients, Vergeire said.
PH remains 'low risk' for COVID-19
The entry of the subvariants contributes to the continuous rise in the country's virus cases, the spokesperson said.
"One of the contributing factors talaga…would be the entry of the subvariants in the country. Mas transmissible ito kaysa sa [original] omicron variant," she told reporters.
(One of the contributing factors really…would be the entry of the subvariants in the country. It's more transmissible than the [original] omicron variant.)
The country recorded 10,743 or an average of 1,535 daily new cases from July 5 to 11, Vergeire said. The figure was 41 percent higher than the previous week and was as high as the number of cases during the last week of February, she added.
Metro Manila's daily virus cases now average at 653 cases, while its neighboring provinces (NCR Plus), the rest of Luzon, and Visayas have an average of fewer than 350 cases daily, according to Vergeire. Mindanao's COVID-19 trend has plateaued at less than 100 cases daily, she said.
Despite the increase in cases, the country's healthcare utilization rate remains at a "low risk" 22 percent, Vergeire added.
The DOH spokesperson urged individuals who experience COVID-19 symptoms to immediately isolate and not wait for test results.
Complying with minimum health standards, such as wearing face masks and proper hand hygiene, and getting vaccinated and boosted can help prevent COVID-19 infection, Vergeire reiterated.