MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines recorded its first cases of the more transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1, which is steadily becoming more prominent in the United States.
During a press briefing on Friday, May 13, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the country detected two cases of the said variant in Metro Manila and 12 cases in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Two cases in Metro Manila are both local, while the cases in Puerto Princesa involve 11 foreigners and one local.
Vergeire said the two cases in Metro Manila have received their booster shots and experienced mild symptoms. They have completed their home isolation and been tagged as recovered. The health department had identified 39 close contacts whose vaccination status is currently being verified.
The 12 Palawan cases were from a cluster of infections in a mini cruse line, where 14 tourists and one local individual tested positive for COVID-19 last April 29. All were asymptomatic and have since recovered, she said. A total of 28 close contacts had been traced and tested negative for COVID-19, and their vaccination status is being verified.
Vergeire said that BA.2.12.1 both have immune escape and increased transmissibility. BA.2.12.1 spreads easily, experts have said. It is believed to be up to 27% more transmissible than BA.2, which is the dominant subvariant of Omicron in the Philippines and the rest of the world.
Currently, there are no studies that suggest that BA.2.12.1 cause more severe disease. It is important to note that this BA.2.12.1 is different from BA.2.12, which was also detected in the Philippines in April. Both are subvariants of Omicron.
The emergence of variants of COVID-19 is a reminder that the pandemic is not yet over. The public is encouraged to continue following minimum public health standards, such as masking and physical distancing. The health department also urged eligible individuals to get their booster shot as soon as possible. – Rappler.com