DEVOTION. Catholics attend the 7 a.m. first Friday Mass at the Saint Peter Church on Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City on Friday (June 3, 2022). Under general community quarantine rules, a maximum 30-percent seating capacity is allowed during Mass. (MNS photo)

MANILA, June 4 (Mabuhay) — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said that the possibility of local transmission of the Omicron BA.5 subvariant was very high following its detection in two individuals in Region III.

“Once we detect this subvariant dito sa ating komunidad, malaki na po ang ating ginagawang index of suspicion na meron tayong lokal na transmission dahil nakita natin kung paano at ano ang linkage,” health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at the Laging Handa briefing.

Vergeire said health authorities were tracing if other individuals had acquired the subvariant.

“Kapag nagkakaroon na kasi tayo ng tao na nade-detect natin na ganitong variant dito po sa ating community, the possiblity that the transmission is local, is very high,” she said, stressing that the individuals had no travel history outside of the country.

The individuals developed symptoms on May 15 and immediately underwent home isolation from May 16 until May 30. They are now asymptomatic and recovered.

The DOH said one of the two cases was a female in her late thirties while the other was a male in his early fifties.

The Health Department identified two close contacts, one of whom tested positive for COVID-19. Both were still in isolation.

However, Vergeire clarified this was not yet classified as community transmission of BA.5 in the country.

“Currently, we cannot say that there is really a community transmission. Because if we say community transmission, we could no longer see the linkage of one case to another,” the health official explained.

“So far we could still determine the linkage. What we have right now is the local transmission of the subvariant. But the community transmission, we still need to establish that through evidence.” (MNS)

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