The first case of Omicron subvariant BA.4, which the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control described as a “variant of concern”, has been detected in the country.
A Filipino national who flew in from the Middle East on 4 May tested positive for the subvariant but did not exhibit any Covid-19 symptom, according to the health department.
In an advisory, the health agency explained that the Filipino tested positive for the subvariant on 8 May.
The Omicron BA.4 was said to be more transmissible and more likely to cause worse illness, compared to other virus types considered only as “variant of interest.”
Experts said it may evade immune protection induced by prior infection or vaccination, particularly if this has waned over time.
Officials and scientists from South Africa said the country may be entering the fifth wave of Covid-19 surge in the early days of May earlier than expected because of the high number of cases believed to be driven by BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Health authorities said they have been coordinating with the concerned local government units (LGU) since the confirmation of the case to quickly implement detection and isolation activities.
“All LGU are strongly advised to proactively seek the unvaccinated and those eligible for boosters, and to make it convenient to get a jab,” the agency said.
It also urged the general public to get inoculated with Covid-19 jabs and to get boosted as soon as possible, while following health protocols like wearing face masks and observing physical distancing.
Beds mustn’t fill up
“We must be careful because faster transmission will result in an increase in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals and clinics,” the health department said.
This week, a spike in average daily Covid-19 cases in the National Capital Region has been noted from 13 to 19 May, from 59 cases the week before to 79 average daily cases, representing a 17 percent increase.
The rise in several indicators has had little impact on the region’s risk rating, which has remained low.