The Department of Health said Tuesday it confirmed local transmission of a subvariant of Omicron that's driving infections in the United States.
Local transmission means there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the community who has infected other people surrounding him or her.
“Bagama't naireport po natin ang detection ng Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 noong nakaraang linggo, narito po tayo upang sabihin na mayroon na pong local transmission nitong subvariant ng Omicron na ito sa ating bansa,” DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
“Nangangahulugan po na ang mga kaso na na-detect natin ay wala na pong kaugnayan sa mga kaso na nagmula sa labas ng bansa ngunit makikita pa rin po ang linkages ng mga detected cases,” she explained.
The Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 has been flagged by the United States Center for Disease Control to be observed in increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S.
Initial data have shown that its mutations are linked with the ability to spread faster and evade immune response but scientists have yet to determine whether it can cause more severe disease.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines has 17 confirmed cases of Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1. Of these cases, 16 are local (two cases in Metro Manila, 12 in Puerto Princesa, and two in Western Visayas). The remaining case is a returning Filipino from abroad residing in Western Visayas, Vergeire said.
Vergeire however clarified that there is no community transmission of the subvariant yet. Community transmission happens when there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in a community but the source of the infection can no longer be identified.
The DOH urged Filipinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to get booster shots once eligible since immunity from the virus wanes.