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‘Stealth’ Omicron dominates Phl



The “stealth” Omicron subvariant is now the most dominant variant in the Philippines, in terms of local community transmission, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) said Thursday.

PGC executive director Cynthia Saloma said the Philippines is not the lone country in the world that is currently experiencing a spike of stealth Omicron cases as global samples showed that there has also been an uptick of cases with the BA.2 lineage in Denmark, United Kingdom, Singapore and India.

She noted that stealth Omicron can still be detected in reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, despite initial information from other countries that the sub-lineage can escape even the RT-PCR test.

“It can still be detected in RT-PCR tests. It was called stealth Omicron because it lacks the deletion of 69-70 in the spike region that is really targeted by the commonly used RT-PCR kit in Europe and other countries,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DoH) reported 618 new Omicron variant cases, bringing the total confirmed caseload in the country to 1,153.

Based on the PGC’s latest batch of whole genome sequencing, of the 677 samples sequenced, 618 tested positive with the Omicron variant.

The health department said stealth Omicron was found to be more prevalent in the latest batch of whole genome sequencing.