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COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12 detected in Baguio City

Philippine health authorities have detected the first case of Omicron BA.2.12 in Baguio City, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Wednesday.

Based on the DOH’s surveillance systems, the new sublineage BA.2.12 was detected in a 52-year-old Finnish female who arrived from Finland last April 2.

She was not required to undergo routine isolation at a quarantine facility since she was fully vaccinated and arrived asymptomatic, according to the DOH.

“The case then traveled to a university in Quezon City and then to Baguio City to conduct seminars. Nine days after her arrival in the country, she experienced mild symptoms such as headache and sore throat,” the Health department said in a statement.

“She then tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 via Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) the next day. Upon detection of this confirmed COVID-19 case, the local epidemiology and surveillance unit (LESU) performed contact tracing,” it added.

Meanwhile, nine asymptomatic close contacts were identified. Two of them were tested and found to be negative.

The DOH said she has finished her seven-day isolation and has recovered and been discharged.

It added that the patient returned to her home country last April 21.

Most of US infections

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said the new sublineages BA 2.12 and BA 2.12.1 spreading in the United States  led to 93% of its recent COVID-19 infections.

Health experts are still studying these Omicron sublineages in terms of transmissibility and if they can cause more severe disease, according to the DOH.

Initial data showed that their mutations are associated with higher transmissibility. However, there is currently no evidence that these sublineages cause more severe disease, the Health department added.

The DOH, however, assured that the country’s surveillance systems were able to detect the new cases and their lineage.

The Health department said the World Health Organization (WHO) declared whether a new variant of interest (VOI) or variant of concern (VOC) has been found.

“BA.2.12 at present is not a VOI or VOC. The public can avoid all variants, whether new or currently circulating, by continuing to wear the best-fitting mask, isolate when sick, double-up protection through vaccination and boosters, and ensure good airflow,” it added. —NB, GMA News