DOH: PH's first Omicron BA.4 case had 3 close contacts, but after quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) – Three people came in close contact with the country's first Omicron BA.4 case a returning overseas Filipino (ROF) after he finished quarantine, but before he was announced positive for the subvariant, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

DOH chief epidemiologist Dr. Alethea de Guzman on Tuesday explained the ROF who arrived in the country unvaccinated had already completed his mandatory quarantine from May 4 to 18 before reuniting with three people from his household.

De Guzman said the three close contacts are fully vaccinated and have so far not shown any COVID-19 symptom.

She added that the DOH is verifying the testing status of all three.

According to the health department, the ROF came from Qatar and also had travel history to Brazil and South Africa. He was asymptomatic, but was tested for COVID-19 while under quarantine.

On May 21, the DOH announced that the specimen collected from him on May 8 turned out positive for the Omicron subvariant. 

The BA.4 is considered a "variant of concern" as it is seen to spread faster, likely due to its ability to evade immune protection induced by vaccination or prior infection, according to DOH.

The agency said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has seen no indications that the BA.4 causes a more severe infection, but it still warned that the spread of the subvariant could overwhelm health facilities.