DOH says 'stealth' Omicron detected in Philippines

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DOH says 'stealth' Omicron detected in Philippines
A health worker collects a swab sample from a passenger to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a train station in Quezon City, suburban Manila on January 18, 2022
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — The country has detected the “stealth” sub-lineage of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Department of Health said Tuesday.

The “stealth” Omicron or BA.2 is predominant in most regions in the Philippines, according to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Mas common ito sa local cases natin sa bawat rehiyon natin,” she said.

(It is more common among local cases in every region.)

The other sub-lineage, BA.1, has been detected in eight regions, and is the most common version of Omicron in Bicol region and among returning overseas Filipinos.

Vergeire emphasized the clinical presentations of the two sub-lineages had “no significant difference.”

“Kinakailangan pa rin ng masusing pag-aaral dahil limitado pa rin naman ang mga obserbasyon na nakukuha dito,” she said.

(We still need further studies because the observations that we have are still limited.)

The “stealth” Omicron has been detected in 49 countries, accounting for a majority of most recent cases in some nations such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, and India.

The UK Health Security Agency designated the BA.2 sub-lineage as a variant under investigation as cases of it were on the rise.

The health official also said that Omicron is the predominant variant in Metro Manila and other parts of the country based on the latest genome sequencing run.

There were 535 Omicron cases detected in the country as of January last week.

The Omicron variant fueled a surge in the Philippines this month, with COVID-19 cases reaching unprecedented highs. — with a report from Agence France-Presse

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