MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health said on Saturday, May 21, that it had detected a case of COVID-19 subvariant Omicron BA.4 in the country.
In a statement, the DOH said it detected the subvariant in a Filipino citizen who flew from the Middle East on May 4. The patient was asymptomatic, according to the health department.
The DOH said the specimen from the patient, which turned out to be positive for the subvariant, was collected on May 8.
The health department added it is now coordinating with appropriate local government units.
“DOH has been coordinating with the concerned LGUs since the confirmation of the case to rapidly implement detection and isolation activities as part of the PDITR response.”
Another variant of concern
According to the DOH, the newly detected subvariant is another variant of concern because of the following:
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) sees the Omicron BA.4 as a variant of concern.
- The BA.4’s faster transmission is possible because it has an ability to evade immune protection from either prior infection or vaccination, “particularly if this has waned over time.”
- According to the DOH, faster transmission will lead to spike in COVID-19 cases.
- In the early days of May, officials and scientists from South Africa said the country may be entering a fifth wave of COVID-19 earlier than expected because of high number of cases believed to be driven by BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.