MANILA, May 16 (Mabuhay) — There is no indication yet that there is already local transmission of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 in the country, although such remains “possible,” an infectious disease expert said Monday.

“Sa ngayon walang indication ‘yan kasi — I mean it’s possible lalo na ang bilis manghawa ng Omicron,” Dr. Edsel Salvana said at the Laging Handa briefing.

“But usually para masabi namin na meron nang local transmission, lalo na ‘yung tinatawag na sustained local transmission, tinitignan natin ‘yung transmission chains niyan at makikita natin kung matre-trace ba natin,  he said.

A member of the Department of Health-Technical Advisory Group, Salvana said the 12 cases of BA.2.12.1 in Palawan were clearly a single cluster while the two cases in Metro Manila are still being investigated.

“Sa ngayon pinag-aaralan pa po ‘yan, but it’s always safer to assume na nandiyan na ‘yan kaya kinakailangan po patuloy ‘yung pag iingat natin,” he said.

Salvana said new cases of the subvariant have mild symptoms while others are asymptomatic.

“Truthfully, itong mga bagong cases ng BA.2.12.1 ay puro mild cases. In most cases nga asymtomatic. Kaya alam natin bagama’t kinakailangan talaga we remain vigilant, ‘yung vaccines continue to protect us,” he said.

Salvana also assured the public that the country will no longer experience a situation similar to the beginning of the pandemic due to the country’s high vaccination rate.

“Hindi na talaga tayo babalik doon sa 2020 na nagla-lockdown tayo dahil walang immunity ‘yung populasyon. Sa ngayon mukhang manageable naman ito at kahit makalusot doon sa mga taong hindi pa nagpapa-booster, mayroon rin naman tayong mga gamot,” he said.

Malacañang on Sunday announced that Metro Manila and some other areas will remain under Alert Level 1 until the end of the month.

Salvana said areas that remained under alert level 2 may not have met the required vaccination rate.

“Kasi alam naman natin dapat at least 70% ng eligible population ay vaccinated and higher, mga 80%, para sa mga elderly natin,” he said.

“And so I think that’s really the sticking point for a lot of the alert level 2 areas eh dahil hindi pa nila nakakamit yung level ng vaccination na puwede sila mag deescalate to alert level 1,” he added.  (MNS)

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