Western Visayas recorded three cases of the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1.
Of the first three cases in the region, two were local transmission while one was detected from a returning overseas Filipino (ROF).
Omicron is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
According to the Department of Health (DOH-6), one of the local cases was a 69-year-old male from Pavia, Iloilo. He was brought to a hospital in the province on May 5.
The patient underwent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing on May 6 and yielded a positive result.
The other local case involved a 66-year-old male from Zarraga, Iloilo. He was admitted to a hospital in Iloilo City on May 7.
On the same day, the patient submitted himself to a swab test and his result turned out positive.
Meanwhile, the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1- infected ROF was a 60-year-old female with history of travel from the United States.
She arrived in the country on April 20. She left Manila via Cebu and arrived in Iloilo City on April 25.
The patient underwent RT-PCR testing on April 27 after experiencing mild symptoms and her positive result was released the following day.
She was subjected to home quarantine from April 29 to May 11 and is presently tagged as recovered.
One of her three identified close contacts was tested and the result came out negative for COVID-19. The two other contacts were being closely monitored.
Samples taken from the three fully vaccinated patients were submitted to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC-Visayas) at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Miag-ao, Iloilo on May 12 for genome sequencing.
The results of their genome sequencing came out on May16.
According to the country's health department, the most recent evidence indicates that Omicron BA.2.12.1 is highly transmissible due to additional mutations, compared to the original Omicron strain.
While this sublineage has so far not been observed to lead to more severe disease or fatality, it has the potential for immune escape.
The DOH-6 said the local epidemiology and surveillance units of the concerned LGUs have undertaken back tracing to identify all close contacts and to complete the case profile of the confirmed cases to identify exposure, travel history, current health and isolation status.
Symptomatic close contacts shall undergo RT PCR testing and isolation while asymptomatic close contacts shall undergo quarantine for at least five days if fully vaccinated and 14 days if partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.
The public is advised to continue adhering to the minimum public health standards such as wearing of face mask, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding crowded spaces.
The DOH-6 also encouraged the eligible population to avail of the COVID-19 vaccination, either primary or booster doses, for additional population protection.IMT