THE Health department reported on Wednesday the detection of the first case of BA 2.12 Omicron sub-variant of Covid-19 in the country.
The carrier was a 52-year-old Finnish woman who arrived in the Philippines on April 2 and was not required to undergo quarantine because she was fully vaccinated and asymptomatic.
The woman visited a university in Quezon City and later traveled to Baguio City to conduct seminars. She began experiencing mild symptoms nine days after her arrival, including sore throat and headache. A succeeding reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test revealed she was positive for Covid-19.
The woman recovered and was later discharged after a seven-day isolation.
She returned to Finland on April 21.
The Department of Health’s (DoH) epidemiology and surveillance unit’s contact tracing, yielded nine asymptomatic individuals. So far, two of them were tested negative for the virus.
The BA 2.12 Omicron sub-variant was the main cause of the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the United States, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While preliminary data suggests that the sub-variant’s mutations could be associated with higher transmissibility, experts are yet to determine if these sublineages have the capacity to escape immunity, increase contagiousness and cause more severe disease.
The World Health Organization does not classify this sub-variant as a variant of interest or a variant of concern.
The DoH said that while the country’s border surveillance systems are efficient, the public is urged to continue wearing masks, practice isolation when feeling sick, and get vaccinated and boosted as a safeguard against infection.
No lockdown in case of surge
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the country will no longer implement wide-scale lockdowns in the event of a BA 2.12 Omicron sub-variant-driven surge, but will instead implement the existing alert level system.
She said that symptoms are bound to manifest in the next 12 days if people were exposed to the virus during the Holy Week break.
“It is every day close monitoring for all of us, but we are not seeing any significant increase,” Vergeire said.
National Task Force Against Covid-19 special adviser Dr. Teodoro Herbosa agreed with Vergeire that lockdowns were no longer necessary, saying that the country has amassed enough experience in fighting the virus in the past two years.
“We already know how to respond, as we have fought Covid-19 for two years. Our hospitals are ready to expand if cases increase like an accordion, where more beds for Covid cases will be allocated, and we are saving our PPE (personal protective equipment) just in case we see increases,” Herbosa said.
DoH Director for Metro Manila Center for Health Development Gloria Balboa said that except for the municipality of Pateros, no local government unit has reported a spike in cases in the past few weeks.