MANILA, Apr 30 (Mabuhay) –The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) on Friday said no onward transmission of COVID-19 Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12 was detected in the country after health authorities detected its first case in Baguio City.

At the Laging Handa briefing, PGC executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma said the new sublineage BA.2.12 was only detected in a 52-year-old Finnish female who arrived from Finland last April 2.

“Ang nakita pa lang natin ay ‘yung BA.2.12, ‘yung Finnish lady na ni-release ng DOH ‘yung kanyang background. The individual has already returned to her home country, contact tracing of her fellow passengers in the airplane as well as in the two universities here. Hindi naman po sila nakapagdetect ng onward transmission,” Saloma said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario earlier said based on their contact tracing, nine of the close contacts were in Quezon City, five in Benguet, and 30 from the plane she rode going to Manila.

Saloma said the Omicron BA.2.12 sublineage was circulating in other countries including Canada, North America, and Europe, which could possibly have led to the Finnish national acquiring the virus.

She said the Department of Health (DOH) could possibly release the latest genome sequencing results by Friday or Saturday, noting that “in that particular run, wala po kaming nakitang (there is no) additional BA.2.12.”

Asked if the Finnish national contracted the BA.2.12 case in the Philippines, Saloma said “We can’t completely remove the possibility but at the same time, the chances are dinala talaga niya particularly because the signature mutation nitong variant BA.2.12 is really widely circulating in Europe in contrast, for example, to other countries in Southeast Asia countries.”

Saloma also reported that no other new sublineages including the BA.2.12.1 and other hybrid variants were detected in the Philippines.

“For now wala po tayong nadetect na (we have not yet detected) BA 2.12.1 and so far we have also not detected the hybrid variants, wala pa po tayong nadetect,” she said.

Vergeire earlier said the new sublineages BA 2.12 and BA 2.12.1 spreading in the United States led to 93% of its recent COVID-19 infections.

Health experts are still studying these Omicron sublineages in terms of transmissibility and if they can cause more severe disease, according to the DOH.

Initial data showed that their mutations are associated with higher transmissibility. However, there is currently no evidence that these sublineages cause more severe disease, the Health department added.(MNS)

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