The majority of the newly detected 618 Omicron COVID-19 cases in the Philippines are of the BA.2 sub-variant, or the so-called "stealth Omicron," the Department of Health reported on Jan. 27.
Out of the 677 samples sequenced by the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center, 91.29% of these, or 618 of them, are of the Omicron variant.
The BA.2 sub-variant was first detected in the country on Dec. 31, 2021 and has been dubbed "stealth Omicron" as it has some genetic traits that make it somehow harder to detect. Based on data gathered by the DOH, UP-PGC, and UP National Institutes of Health, there is no significant difference between the original lineage of Omicron, B.1.1.529, and BA.2.
The health department also said it will continue to investigate why the new sub-variant is more prevalent. "So far the detection of BA.2 does not entail any significant change in the COVID-19 response," it said.
On Jan. 24, health secretary Francisco Duque III said BA.2 is still a variant under investigation in the country, and not yet a variant of concern.
Out of the new Omicron cases, 497 are local cases while 121 are returning overseas Filipinos. 238 of these are located in Metro Manila, 71 in Calabarzon, 30 in Ilocos and Western Visayas, 28 in Eastern Visayas, 27 in Central Luzon, 20 in Central Visayas, 19 in Cagayan Valley, 13 in the Cordillera Administrative Region, 10 in Davao, six in SOCCKSARGEN, two cases in Bicol and Mimaropa, and one in Northern Mindanao.
Thirteen cases are still active while two of the infected individuals have died. 560 cases have been tagged as recovered while 43 are being verified.
This new count brings the total Omicron cases in the country to 1,153 and the deaths caused by the variant to five.