Philippines detects local transmission of Omicron sub-variant

Manila, May 17 (IANS) The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday confirmed the local transmission of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.2.12.1 sub-variant of Covid-19.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that local clusters of the BA.2.12.1 variant infection have been detected in Metro Manila, the Western Visayas region in the central Philippines, and Puerto Princesa city in Palawan province, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It means that the cases we detected in these areas are not linked to imported cases,” Vergeire told a virtual media briefing.

The Philippines has detected 17 BA.2.12.1 cases so far.

“Now that we have local transmission of Omicron BA.2.12.1, we must act fast,” Vergeire said, urging local government units to “actively look for cases and immediately isolate” suspected cases.

She said there is no community transmission yet in the country.

Studies have showed that BA.2.12.1 is highly transmissible due to additional mutations than the original Omicron strain.

While this sub-lineage has not been observed to lead to more severe disease or fatality, it has the potential for immune escape.

The Philippines has so far reported 3,688,292 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 60,458 deaths.