MANILA, Philippines — There is now local transmission of the BA.5 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Saturday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the announcement after a 39 year-old female and 51-year old male from Central Luzon tested positive for the BA.5 sub variant despite not having a travel history outside the country.
This, however, does not mean that there is already a community transmission of the said Omicron subvariant in the country.
“We cannot say there is really a community transmission,” Vergeire said in a public briefing when asked if there is a community transmission of the BA.5 subvariant in the country.
“What we have right now is the local transmission of this subvariant. The community transmission, we still need to establish that through evidence,” the spokesperson added.
A local transmission refers to detected cases with a local or domestic source of infection, without any link to international sources outside of the country.
Community transmission, on the other hand, means that there are a large number of infections — or clusters of cases — being detected, most of which cannot be linked with existing cases.
On Friday, the DOH announced the entry of the Omicron subvariant BA.5 in the country. Aside from BA.5, Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.2.12.1. have also been detected in the country.
The DOH has said that there is now a local transmission of BA.2.12.1.
The Omicron subvariants are considered to be highly transmissible that can also evade vaccine protection, according to health experts.
Independent pandemic monitor OCTA Research previously said the new subvariants may cause another surge in COVID-19 cases once present in the country, but would not be as high as the cases recorded in January that were linked to the Omicron variant.
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