DOH: 91% of recent samples have Omicron variant

Bonz Magsambol

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DOH: 91% of recent samples have Omicron variant

TESTING. A commuter of MRT-3 undergoes swabbing.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The Philippines detects 618 more cases of Omicron, majority of which have BA.2 subvariant
DOH: 91% of recent samples have Omicron variant

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Thursday, January 27, that 91.29% or 618 of the 677 COVID-19 samples were positive for Omicron, adding that majority have the BA.2 subvariant or “stealth Omicron.”

“The 618 Omicron variant cases were composed of 497 local cases and 121 Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs),” the DOH said. The agency did not give how many of these have either BA.1 or BA.2 subvariants.

Here’s the breakdown of local cases:

  • Metro Manila – 238
  • Calabarzon – 71
  • Ilocos Region – 30
  • Western Visayas – 30
  • Eastern Visayas – 28
  • Central Luzon – 27
  • Central Visayas – 20
  • Cagayan Valley – 19
  • Cordillera Administrative Region – 13
  • Davao Region – 10
  • Soccskargen – 6
  • Bicol Region – 2
  • Mimaropa – 2
  • Northern Mindanao – 1

“Based on the case line list, 13 cases are still active, two cases have died, 560 cases have been tagged as recovered, while there are 43 cases whose outcomes are still being verified,” the DOH said.

The Philippines now has 1,153 cases of Omicron, but there are concerns that the actual number may be far higher, as the Philippine Genome Center is only sequencing a small percentage of the positive cases.

DOH: 91% of recent samples have Omicron variant

The DOH also recorded a total of five deaths who were infected with Omicron. Two were aged 60 years and above, unvaccinated, and had pre-existing illness, while the three others are still being verified.

More prevalent BA.2 subvariant

The DOH said that both BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants have been detected in the country. First cases of BA.2 were found on the batch of sequencing results on December 31, 2021.

“The DOH shall continue to investigate why BA.2 has become more prevalent than BA.1 but so far the detection of BA.2 does not entail any significant change in the COVID-19 response,” the agency said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Tuesday, January 25, that BA.2 was “predominant in most regions” in the country. She said that Omicron subvariant BA.1 has been detected in eight regions and is predominant in the Bicol Region and among returning overseas Filipinos.

BA.1 is also the predominant subvariant detected across the world.

The UK Health Security Agency has classified the BA.2 Omicron subvariant as “variant of investigation” after preliminary studies showed that it might be both more transmissible and could evade vaccines better than other variants of the novel coronavirus. The BA.2 subvariant is causing alarm in European countries, such as United Kingdom and Denmark.

UK scientists said that it was too early to know whether the BA.2 would spread in the same way as the original Omicron or the BA.1. Learn more about the BA.2 subvariant in the article below.

What we know so far about Omicron subvariant BA.2

What we know so far about Omicron subvariant BA.2

However, in Denmark, the stealth Omicron accounted for 20% of all cases in the last week of 2021, increasing to approximately 45% in the second week of 2022. During the same period, the relative frequency of BA.1 had dropped. This was according to Statens Serum Institut (SSI), an agency under the Danish Ministry of Health tasked with ensuring “preparedness against infectious diseases and biological threats as well as control of congenital disorders.”

Aside from Omicron cases, the DOH also reported the detection of 35 Delta cases. This brings the total cases of this variant in the country to 8,647. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.