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Philippines has not yet detected Omicron subvariant XBB — DOH

The Philippines has not yet detected the new Omicron subvariant XBB, according to the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday.

The DOH said the XBB variant is a recombinant of BJ.1 (BA.2.10.1 sublineage) and BM.1.1.1 (BA.2.75 sublineage).

Citing preliminary studies, the Health Department said that the “sublineage shows higher immune evasion ability than BA.5.”

“As of October 13, we have not detected the said variant in the Philippines. The DOH, in partnership with our local sequencing facilities, is continuously conducting surveillance  to monitor the importation of this variant and  other emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants,” it said in a statement.

Based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website, the Omicron subvariants under monitoring as of October 12, 2022 are BA.5, BA.2.75, BJ.1, BA.4.6, XBB, and BA.2.3.20.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) earlier said the city-state is experiencing “an increase in local cases driven by XBB, including the post-weekend spike this Tuesday.”

“The number of severe cases has remained relatively low. This is very likely due to the resilience built up through vaccination and previous waves of infection. We are monitoring the trajectory closely,” it said.

The MOH, however, debunked rumors saying that Singapore is “having a rapid and large increase in cases with severe illness and deaths due to the circulating XBB strain.”

“This is not true. We are initiating POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act) action against such falsehoods,” it added.

Delta, Omicron subvariant cases

The DOH earlier said it has detected 722 new Delta and Omicron subvariant cases in the country. In a report released on Tuesday, the DOH said 605 new BA.5 Omicron subvariant cases were detected based on the sequencing results from October 7 to 10.

Ninety-three new Delta cases were also reported, while one case is still being verified. The DOH said 18 cases of BA.4 and five cases of BA.2.75 were recorded.

The Health Department also reported that 1,623 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded, while the tally of active cases has dipped to 24,283 on Wednesday. — RSJ, GMA News