DOH detects first cases of new Omicron subvariant in Metro Manila, Puerto Princesa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13) — The Department of Health on Friday reported that the country has detected its first cases of the more transmissible Omicron BA.2.12.1 subvariant in Metro Manila and Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said two local cases were reported in the capital region, while 12 individuals were found with the subvariant in Puerto Princesa City in late-April.

The official said the two cases from Metro Manila – who tested positive on April 22 – have completed home isolation and are now tagged as recovered.

They both received their booster shots and only experienced mild symptoms.

Thirty-nine of their close contacts are not showing symptoms as per Vergeire.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said 11 foreign tourists and one local also tested positive for the BA.2.12.1 subvariant on April 29 after being together on board a mini cruise line in Puerto Princesa.

All of them have recovered, she noted.

The DOH said the patients could have experienced more severe flu-like symptoms if they were not vaccinated, urging the public to get their COVID-19 primary shots and booster dose.

Vergeire said the BA.2.12.1 subvariant has a 23-27% growth rate when compared to the original strain of Omicron.

It also has the possibility of escaping immunity from vaccine or previous infections based on preliminary studies, but there is no evidence suggesting it leads to more severe symptoms, she said.