DOH detects PH's first Omicron BA.4 case

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The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Saturday it has detected the country's first case of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.4. subvariant. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Saturday it has detected the country's first case of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.4. subvariant.

The case involved a Filipino citizen who flew in from the Middle East on May 4. He did not show symptoms but his test on May 8 came out positive for the subvariant.

The BA.4 is seen to be a highly transmissible subvariant of Omicron and a "variant of concern" because of its "ability to evade immune protection" even from vaccination, especially after such protection from the doses of immunization have already waned, the DOH added.

The agency said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has not observed if the subvariant results in more severe infections. It still cautioned that more transmissions could lead to a spike in cases.

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante implied that the entry of the variant necessitates the need to intensify vaccination drives.

"Isang important factor is the waning immunity of the population kaya ang expectation tataas ang mga kaso," said Solante on CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend. "That's why importante pa rin paigtingin ang bakuna natin."

[Translation: One important factor is the waning immunity of the population, that is why the expectation is a spike in cases. That's why it is still important to strengthen our vaccination efforts]

Solante reminded that the country still has a surplus of vaccine supplies.