MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said Friday, November 25, that it had detected the country’s first cases of the more transmissible COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BQ.1.
The DOH specified that the subvariant cases were detected in the Cordillera, Ilocos, Calabarzon, Central Visayas regions and in Metro Manila. One case’s location was unknown.
The 14 cases were detected between October 28 and November 18.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a press conference that BQ.1 is transmissible and has a higher capability of evading immunity. While subvariants are more transmissible, not much is known yet about the other characteristics of BQ.1. The cases seem to be milder than the previous Delta variant and the original strain, added Vergeire.
According to the United States’ Center for Disease Control, the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants makeup for half of all current coronavirus cases in the US.
In the Philippines, the BA.5 subvariant is the most dominant variant circulating in the country with 12,491 cases detected between October 28 and November 18, making up for 27% of all samples sequenced during that period.
While XBB and the XBC variants were detected in the Philippines last October 18, only 440 and 429 cases were monitored of those subvariants during that same period, making up .96% and .93% of all cases sequenced respectively. – Rappler.com