PHL logs first cases of BA.2.12.1 Omicron subvariant in Metro Manila, Palawan

(Eagle News)–The Philippines has registered its first cases of the BA.2.12.1 Omicron subvariant in Metro Manila and Palawan.

According to the Department of Health, the two local cases from Metro Manila had no international travel history and were from the same cluster.

Both cases tested positive last April 22, 2022, and have completed home isolation.

The cases have been fully vaccinated.

In Palawan, of the 12 BA.2.12.1 cases detected, 11 were foreign nationals and one was a local case.

The DOH said cases were part of a group who departed for a diving exploration last April 23, 2022.

Three days after departure, one of the foreign nationals experienced nasal congestion.

One local and three other foreign nationals developed mild symptoms one to two days after.

The DOH said while 15 tested positive in the RT-PCR upon arrival back at the port last April 29, only 12 samples were eligible for whole genome sequencing, with all  coming back positive for BA.2.12.1.

All cases are currently asymptomatic and have been discharged from the facility isolation, the DOH said.

The agency noted that all were fully vaccinated.

Their 28 close contacts from the ship have tested negative and have completed quarantine.

“Should a variant of concern (VOC) enter the country, expert projections indicate a possible rise and peak in COVID-19 cases, especially with the currently low booster coverage among the eligible population,” the DOH said.

It encouraged all eligible for a booster shot “to get the jab done, as immunity is proven to wane over time.”

Preliminary data has shown that the Omicron  mutations are associated with higher transmissibility and an ability to evade immune response.