The Philippines has detected a total of 14 cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Palawan, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said two cases were detected in NCR while 12 were detected in Puerto Princesa City, of which 11 are foreigners and one a local case.
“We have detected 14 individuals with BA.2.12.1. Twelve galing sa [came from] Puerto Princesa, dalawa galing sa [two came from] NCR,” Vergeire said in a media briefing.
Vergeire said the two cases in the NCR have received their booster shots and experienced mild symptoms. They are now tagged as recovered after completing home isolation.
She said the two cases in NCR have a total of 39 asymptomatic close contacts who are currently asymptomatic.
“Inaalam natin ngayon ang kanilang vaccination status atsaka ang kanilang status sa kanilang quarantine [We are determining their vaccination and quarantine status],” Vergeire said.
The Philippines in April detected its first case of Omicron BA.2.12 — a Finnish traveler — in Baguio City.
“In totality, itong dalawang ito pareho silang more transmissible than the original Omicron variant atsaka pareho silang may possibility ng immune escape based from the experts or the studies that are coming out,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire said both subvariants have been found in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.
The DOH also announced 49 new cases of the more transmissible Omicron variant and two new cases of the Delta variant out of 63 samples sequenced from May 2 to 10.
Of the 49 cases, 45 are local, two are foreign nationals, and the remaining two are still being verified.
Vergeire said the two cases of the Delta variant were detected in Region II and Region IV-A.
“Pagdating naman sa mga kaso ng Omicron, walang dapat ipagkabahala ang publiko dahil mababa pa rin ang porsyento ng severe at critical cases,” she said.
"Pero muling pinapaalala ng Kagawaran ng Kalusugan na patuloy po tayong maging alerto at maingat. Sumunod pa rin po tayo sa ating minimum public health standards at higit sa lahat magpaturok tayo ng primary series ng bakuna at booster shots kung eligible na tayo,” she added.
In a scenario where the country administers 500,000 booster doses per month and in the presence of immune escaping variants, the seven-day moving average may increase to 7,702 by July 27, the DOH said.
However, in the presence of more transmissible and immune-escaping variants, the seven-day moving average may increase to 14,606 by June 23.
“Ang ating COVID-19 admissions naman ay maaring umabot ng 5,500 to 9,900 which is two to three times higher than reported during both Delta and Omicron peaks,” Vergeire said.
“Samantala, ang ICU admissions naman ay tinatansa aabot ay 1,200 to almost 2,000 admissions. Sa Omicron wave ang pinakamataas na ICU admissions ay naitala sa 652 habang 1,272 noong nag Delta experience tayo,” she added.
According to the DOH, a total of 68.6 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including 6.7 million elderly and nearly 9 million immunocompromised individuals.
The DOH official also stressed that mask mandates would be the last to go among health protocols.
“Sabi natin ang face mask siguro ang pinakahuli sa ating mga ginagawang safety protocols na mawawala na gagamitin ng ating publiko,” she said.
Vergeire issued the remark after an infectious disease expert said that mask mandates may be lifted if new COVID-19 cases drop to less than 200 in the next three months. —KBK/VBL, GMA News