MANILA — The Department of Health on Friday confirmed the local transmission of the highly contagious omicron XBB subvariant and XBC variant.
According to Dr. Alethea De Guzman, director of DOH's epidemiology bureau, the country's XBB and XBC cases are not linked to travel.
"Definitely, there is local transmission dahil lahat ito ay local cases," she said in an online town hall meeting.
"Ibig sabihin, hindi natin sila nali-linked to either may mga travel ito outside the Philippines o may exposure ito from someone who have recently traveled outside the Philippines."
(Definitely, there is local transmission because all these are local cases. This means that we cannot link them to either travel outside the Philippines or exposure from someone who have recently traveled outside the Philippines.)
"Dito talaga nila nakuha 'yung kanilang impeksiyon," she added.
(They got infected here.)
But De Guzman noted the transmission is still "localized" because the variants were detected in select regions.
"Hindi pa natin masabi na it's nationwide o wide-scale community transmission," she said.
(We cannot say that it's nationwide or wide-scale community transmission.)
The DOH earlier this week reported the detection of omicron XBB subvariant and XBC variant.
The XBB, first detected in India in August 2022, is a recombinant of 2 omicron subvariants.
At present, it has been detected in at least 24 countries and 4 continents and has been the primary cause of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Singapore, the DOH said.
Preliminary studies suggest that the XBB variant shows higher immune evasion ability than the BA.5 variant, but there is no sufficient evidence that this variant causes more severe illness.
Of the 81 XBB cases in the country, 70 have recovered and 8 are still undergoing isolation while the status of the remaining 3 cases is still being verified. None have died from XBB.
Meanwhile, the XBC variant is a recombinant of the omicron BA.2 and delta (B.1.617.2) variant.
As of October 3, the United Kingdom Health Security Agency classified the XBC variant as a variant under monitoring and investigation.
However, the World Health Organization and the European Centers for Disease Control have yet to determine the risk this variant poses.
Of the 193 XBC cases in the country, 176 have recovered, 3 are still undergoing isolation and the status of the remaining 9 cases is still being verified. Five people have died due to the XBC.