The Department of Health (DOH) has detected Omicron-BA.4 from a Filipino citizen who flew in from the Middle East last May 4, the health bureau said in an advisory.
According to DOH, the positive test result for the subvariant was from a specimen collected on May 8.
Per the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) sees Omicron BA.4 as a variant of concern (VOC). Compared to a variant of interest (VOl), a VOC is seen to either spread faster or cause worse illness.
BA.4’s faster transmission is likely because of its ability to evade immune protection induced by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this has waned over time.
DOH has been coordinating with the concerned LGUs since confirmation of the case to rapidly implement detection and isolation activities as part of the PDITR response.
LGUs are strongly advised to proactively seek the unvaccinated and those eligible for boosters, and to make it convenient to get a jab.
As of May 1, DOH said 146,869,397 already received their shots against COVID-19.
The Philippines was also given the green light to the 2nd booster shots for senior citizens, frontline health workers, and immunocompromised individuals.
Immunocompromised individuals may receive any of the following brands for their 2nd booster shot: AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.
Meanwhile, healthcare workers and senior citizens may opt for Pfizer or Moderna.