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The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said it is premature to declare a local transmission of the BA2.12.1 Omicron subvariant in the Philippines without enough evidence.

Two local cases were detected in the National Capital Region (NCR) and 12 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan in April.

The two NCR cases are relatives who traveled to a province to get vaccinated and have no history of travel abroad.

All 14 patients only had mild symptoms and have already recovered.

“It’s too early for us to say that there is local transmission. Kailangan natin ng enough evidence para ma-ipakita natin at ma-analyze kung talagang mayroon na tayong local transmission,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a “Laging Handa” briefing.

Vergeire said the DOH continues to conduct surveillance to identify the source of infection.

“Itong patuloy na pag-i-ingat, pagbabakuna, at surveillance system na maayos ang kailangan nating ma-ihanda sa ngayon para hindi na natin makitang kumalat pa at tumaas ang mga kaso,” she said.

“The best way to go would be to receive a booster if you are eligible so that you can get adequate protection,” she added.

Vergeire clarified that the World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to classify BA2.12.1 as a variant of concern or interest but reminded the public to remain vigilant.

Citing initial studies, she said the subvariant is 23 to 27 percent more transmissible than the original Omicron variant.

The detection of 14 BA2.12.1 cases did not cause any significant increase in the number of cases in NCR and “has not yet translated into an increased transmission in hospitals”, Vergeire said. (PNA)

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