Four cases of Omicron subvariant BF.7 detected in the country – DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 23) – Four cases of the Omicron subvariant BF.7 have been detected in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday.

“As of current date, only four BF.7 cases have been detected in the country,” the DOH told reporters.

The latest Covid-19 biosurveillance report of the DOH said that one case of the BF.7 subvariant has been detected in the National Capital Region (NCR).

This lone case of BF.7 was classified during a Whole Genome Sequencing on 133 samples conducted by the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) Diliman and Mindanao from Dec. 14 to Dec. 15.

The DOH did not say where the other three Omicron BF.7 cases were detected.

According to the department, the European Centers for Disease Control (ECDC) has classified BF.7 as a “variant under monitoring” because of its growing prevalence on a global-scale.

“The Omicron subvariant BF.7 is a BA.5 sublineage initially flagged by the researchers due to its potential to be more transmissible than the wild type BA.5 and immune evading properties,” the DOH explained.

However, the agency clarified that the BF.7 sublineage did not suggest any difference in “disease severity and/or clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant.”

“Currently, the subvariant is still reported under BA.5 by the World Health Organization [WHO] and will remain classified under Omicron until sufficient evidence arises showing that the virus characteristics are significantly different from Omicron,” the health agency added.

Whole genome sequencing results released by the DOH from Dec. 14 to Dec. 15 showed 12,565 cases of the Omicron BA.5 sublineage have been detected in the country so far, making it the most prolific Covid-19 subvariant.

Chinese health authorities earlier credited a new wave of Covid-19 infections across China to the BF.7 sublineage.

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