DOH assures health facilities in place, pushes for boosted surveillance after Omicron BQ.1 detection

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 26) — Preparatory activities — including ensuring enough health facilities — have been launched following the detection of the new Omicron sublineage BQ.1 in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday.

“The country’s healthcare utilization rate remains at low risk, and preparatory activities have already been initiated to ensure that triage systems are in place and step-down health facilities are available should an increase in healthcare utilization rates be observed,” the DOH said in a statement.

The agency on Friday reported the Philippines’ first 14 cases of BQ.1 — which has been labeled by experts as "highly transmissible and immune-evasive.”

The DOH said that aside from healthcare capacity, bolstering the country’s surveillance and data-sharing systems will also be important in light of the emerging COVID-19 variants.

This is to ensure that the "emergence of variants is always captured, studied, and used to update vaccines,” it noted.

The department again appealed to the public to get their COVID-19 vaccines as they remain effective in preventing severe and critical infections.