The Philippines has detected 923 more cases of highly transmissible Omicron subvariants BA.5, BA.4, and BA.2.12.1, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.
The DOH also logged 3,858 new cases on Thursday, the highest daily tally in 24 weeks or since February 10, bringing the nationwide total to 3,764,346.
Active cases also increased to 29,897, the highest total in 16 weeks, or since April 8, the DOH said.
The National Capital Region (NCR) reported 13,135 new cases in the last fortnight, followed by Calabarzon with 8,504, Central Luzon with 3,923, Western Visayas with 2,465, and Central Visayas with 1,526.
Health Undersecretary Beverly Ho said the government found 890 additional cases of the Omicron BA.5, 18 more cases of the BA.4, and 15 new cases of the BA2.12.1.
The latest figures raise the country’s total to 1,997 BA.5 cases, 154 BA.2.12.1 cases, and 71 BA.4 cases, Ho said. The DOH removed one case each from the BA.5 and BA.4 tallies for being duplicates, she added.
All regions except Bangsamoro and Soccksargen logged a case of the Omicron BA.5 in the latest whole genome sequencing, Ho said. Nine of the additional BA.5 cases were returning Filipinos, she added.
Of the 890 newly reported BA.5 cases, 823 have recovered, 31 were still under isolation, while the status of the remaining 36 was still being verified, Ho said.
A total of 650 were fully vaccinated, 18 were partially vaccinated, while the inoculation status of the remaining 222 was still being verified, she added.
A total of 18 more BA.4 cases were also reported, of which 17 have recovered, while the remaining patient was still under isolation, said
Ho, who heads the Public Health Services Team.
Thirteen of the patients were fully inoculated while the vaccination status of the remaining cases was being verified, Ho said.
Seven of the BA.4 cases were from Metro Manila, 6 were from the Bicol region, 2 from the Cordilleras, and 1 each from Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, and Calabarzon, Ho added.
Meanwhile, out of the additional 15 BA.2.12.1 cases, 14 have recovered while one patient is under isolation, Ho said.
Eight of the patients were fully vaccinated, one was partially inoculated, and the vaccination status of the remaining cases was being verified, Ho said.
The country recorded 21,331 new COVID-19 cases in the previous week,about a 32-percent increase from a week before, the undersecretary said.
The DOH earlier said tightening border controls was unnecessary to prevent the entry of new Omicron subvariants BA.2.75 and BA.5.2.1.
Both the BA.5 and BA.4 sub-lineages of Omicron were added to the World Health Organization’s monitoring list in March and designated as variants of concern by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire also earlier said the BA.5 and the BA.4 subvariants do not cause critical or severeinfection and they almost share the same characteristics.
The department also said that these subvariants should “not be any cause of concern.”
The Philippines’ national weekly positivity rate for COVID-19 infection went up to 14.8 percent, the DOH said Thursday.
“Our positivity rates also increased from 12.5 percent to 14.8 percent this week, which is similar to our rate in February,” Ho said.
This rate is almost triple the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ideal positivity rate threshold.
However, Ho explained that the country remains at a low-risk classification despite the increase in positivity rate as the average daily attack rate remained low.
All the regions also remained at low-risk classification despite a reported increase in the past two weeks.
Metro Manila currently has a daily moving average of 1,100 cases per day, said Ho.
She said the continuous increase in cases also did not translate into an increase in COVID-19 admissions as the number of severe and critical cases, at 734, continues to be below 1,000.
However, Ho noted an increase of about 12 percent or 757 in total COVID-19 hospital admissions, with the ICU utilization rate currently at 21 percent.
Some 71.6 million Filipinos have now been vaccinated against COVID-19, including 9.7 million adolescents, 4 million children, and 6.8 million senior citizens.
More than 16 million individuals have also been inoculated with their first booster shot, while 1.2 million have received their second booster shot.
The DOH recently launched the “PinasLakas” program, which aims to administer booster vaccines to at least 23 million people, or about 50 percent of the eligible population within the first 100 days of the Marcos administration.