Philippines detects 1st case of Omicron subvariant BA.4

Authorities have found the country’s first case of new COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.4 from a Filipino who traveled from the Middle East last May 4.

The Department of Health (DOH) last May 21 reported the country’s first case of COVID-19 Omicron subvariant BA.4, which is believed to be more transmissible as it is tagged as a “variant of concern.”

In a statement, the DOH said the case was a Filipino male who arrived in the country from the Middle East last May 4.

The DOH added the positive test result of the asymptomatic patient was from a specimen collected last May 8. It is unclear whether the individual was a returning tourist or worker, and whether he has been vaccinated or not against the virus.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has classified BA.4 as a variant of concern due to its higher transmissibility and disease severity.

“[F]aster transmission is likely because of [the subvariant’s] ability to evade immune protection induced by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this has waned over time,” the DOH explained.

The DOH also appealed to the public to be “be careful because faster transmission will lead to a spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals and clinics.”

To recall, health officials confirmed last May 17 the local transmission of another highly infectious Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1.

Based on the DOH data, Cavite has 107 active cases of COVID-19 as of May 20.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Getty Images

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