923 more Omicron subvariant cases reported by DoH

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINES on Thursday reported 923 more cases involving more contagious Omicron subvariants.

The Department of Health (DoH) said there were 890 more infections involving the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, bringing the total to 1,997.

Of the new BA.5 patients, 823 have recovered, 31 were still in isolation and the status of 36 was still being verified, Health Undersecretary Beverly Ho told a virtual news briefing on Thursday. Nine returning overseas Filipinos tested positive for the subvariant.

The new BA.5 cases were detected in all regions except Soccsksargen and the Bangsamoro, she added.

Meanwhile, 18 more people got infected by the BA.4 Omicron subvariant, bringing the total to 71. Seven were from the National Capital Region (NCR), six from Bicol, two from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and one each from Ilocos , Cagayan Valley and Calabarzon.

Seventeen of the BA.4 patients have recovered, while the remaining one was still in isolation, Ms. Ho said.

She said the Philippines also posted 15 more BA.2.12.1 Omicron cases, bringing the total to 154. Five patients came from Metro Manila, four from CAR, three from Calabarzon and one each from Ilocos and Mimaropa. One returning overseas Filipino tested positive for the subvariant, she added.

Fourteen of them have recovered, while four others were in isolation.

Ms. Ho said the exposure and travel histories of the newly detected cases were still being verified.

Like other countries, the Philippines is also preparing for a potential outbreak of monkeypox, which is now considered a global threat.

Ms. Ho said the Health department was eyeing to protect Filipinos against the virus by using smallpox vaccines through a compassionate use permit.

“We can’t use the emergency use authorization as a tool for other vaccines,” she said, noting that the permit was only allowed by existing regulations for coronavirus vaccines.

“If we wait for a certificate of product registration, it will take a long time,” she said.

Ms. Ho said DoH guidelines allow supportive therapy as the main treatment for monkeypox. “We basically relieve their symptoms and make sure they don’t go into a much worse condition.”

Local health authorities were in “constant communication with its counterparts” for monkeypox treatment and vaccines, she added.

Last week, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox infection as a public health emergency of international concern.

The virus, which was first discovered in 1958, causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions. It spreads via contact.

Meanwhile, a former presidential adviser hit health authorities for their late decision on the business community’s proposal to expand the eligibility for the second booster shot, after more than 4 million COVID-19 vaccines expired.

Jose Ma. Concepcion, now a member of the Marcos administration’s Private Sector Council, said belated action by DoH’s Health Technology Assessment Council prevented the private sector from using P5.1 billion worth of vaccines that expired on Wednesday.

“This is a huge loss, P5 billion worth of expired vaccines is not small for the private sector,” he told the ABS-CBN News Channel. “For the government, even more.”

“Unfortunately, the council didn’t act on it right away,” he said. “This wouldn’t have come to this point.” — KATA