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DOH: First Arcturus case in PH already recovered

The country’s first case of COVID-19 Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, also known as Arcturus, has already recovered, according to the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday.
The DOH said the first recorded Arcturus case was from Iloilo province and was asymptomatic.
The agency announced the detection of XBB.1.16—a variant under monitoring by the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)—on Tuesday, based on the latest genome sequencing from April 12 to 17.
“[T]he Arcturus variant, or XBB.1.16, is a sublineage of the Omicron, which has the ability to evade immunity and is said to be more transmissible,” the DOH said.
Citing the WHO’s risk assessment on April 17, the DOH said that no changes in severity have been reported in countries where the sublineage is said to be circulating.

So far, it has been detected in 33 countries or jurisdictions across six continents.
“There may have been slight increases in bed occupancy in India and Indonesia, but levels are still much lower compared to the effects of the previous variants. Overall, risk assessment is said to be low,” the agency added.
As to Arcturus’ symptoms, the DOH said that the WHO has yet to confirm if it involves “sticky eyes” or conjunctivitis.
COVID-19 generally exhibits flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, headache, body pain, and diarrhea, among others.
“Aside from the known flu-like symptoms of COVID-19, other symptoms may vary from case to case, and studies are continuously ongoing of what effects the virus may entail. What is important is that cases remain manageable,” the DOH said.
OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David floated on Tuesday the possibility that the rising cases may be due to the spread of Arcturus in the country.
The latest data from OCTA Research on Tuesday showed that the seven-day positivity rate in Metro Manila rose to 11.4% from 7.5% last week.
The positivity rate refers to the percentage of people who were found positive for COVID-19 among the total number of individuals tested.
The Health Department reminded the public to continue adhering to the layers of protection, such as wearing masks, isolating when sick, and ensuring good airflow, especially when out in public places.
It also advised getting vaccinated and boosted, stressing that “vaccination remains to be the most effective and best long-term protection against the COVID-19 virus.”
At least 78.4 million Filipinos are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
A total of 23.8 million people have had their initial booster doses, and 4.4 million have received their second dose. —VBL, GMA Integrated News