MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday said it has yet to detect the local presence of a subvariant of the more contagious COVID-19 Delta strain, adding that they are monitoring strains closely.
Experts have yet to identify the health impacts of the AY 4.2. variant, which has already turned up in some European countries, especially the United Kingdom.
The health department said experts are still studying its transmissibility and severity among COVID-19 patients.
"The particular Delta sublineage has not yet been detected among the COVID-19 positive samples sequenced in the country. While this is being investigated, we emphasize that regardless of the variant, all COVID-19 cases should be managed similarly and as per current protocols," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
"Each case must be immediately isolated and contact traced upon detection. Current evidence also showed that the presence or absence of a variant of interest or concern among cases do not dictate the appropriate clinical management," she added.
A health expert in London told Agence France-Presse that the subvariant is "rare and does not appear to pose the same risk of significantly increased transmission as other strains."
The AY 4.2. variant has yet to be classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern or variant of interest.
On Aug. 15, the Philippines detected its first Lambda variant case, which appeared to be a local infection.
The Lambda variant, or C.37, which was first detected in Peru last year, is more infectious than the original strain emerging from Wuhan, China in late 2019. Studies have shown that it is more resistant to COVID-19 vaccines.
The Philippines is reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant, but authorities this week eased virus curbs despite reports that hospitals in the capital region and nearby provinces remained full.
New infections in the country fell below the 5,000-mark for the past three days. The Philippines logged its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan.
The government has so far fully vaccinated 24.7 million individuals, while 28.6 million have received their first dose. The vaccine rollout started March 1 this year.
- With a report from Agence France-Presse