DOH: PH's 1st XBB.1.5 case a Filipino with no travel history

DOH: PH's 1st XBB.1.5 case a Filipino with no travel history
This undated National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH handout photo obtained August 1, 2021, shows a transmission electron color-enhanced micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.
Handout / National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s first confirmed case of Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 was a Filipino with no recent travel history, the Department of Health said on Tuesday.

“This is a local detection. There was no history of any type of travel. His exposure is unknown,” Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing. The patient had already recovered after experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19.

Vergeire added that the patient’s close contacts were all asymptomatic.

Experts suggest that XBB.1.5 — an offshoot of the Omicron XBB subvariant — is the most transmissible variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The World Health Organization’s rapid risk assessment showed there is moderate-strength evidence for XBB.1.5’s increased risk of transmission and immune escape. However, studies do not suggest any differences in disease severity compared to the original Omicron variant.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control classified XBB.1.5 as a variant of interest.

Monitoring CH.1.1

In the same briefing, Vergeire said the department is closely monitoring CH.1.1, a sublineage currently reported under Omicron BA.2.75.

WHO classified CH.1.1 as a variant under monitoring. It has a mutation seen in the Delta variant, which was found to be more transmissible and potentially more severe than the original strain of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Philippines has so far detected three CH.1.1 cases.

“We will continuously monitor the situation. There are safeguards such as strengthened surveillance because we’d like to monitor the effects of newer subvariant in the country,” Vergeire said.

In an update sent to reporters, the DOH said all areas in the country have started to show plateauing in recent days. It added that while the decline in intensive care unit admissions has slowed down, the number of severe or critical admissions remains on a downward trend in recent weeks.

The Philippines recorded 1,101 additional COVID-19 infections and 98 fatalities in the past week. There are currently 9,137 active cases.

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