MANILA, Jan 26 (Mabuhay) –The Philippines has detected the BA.1 and the BA.2 or the Stealth Omicron, two sub-lineages of the more transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said BA.1 is most common in returning overseas Filipinos and in Region V while the BA.2 is most common in local cases in every region.

“Sa ngayon kailangan natin maipaalala at tandaan ang ating mga kababayan, walang nakitang clinical difference sa BA.1 at BA.2,” Vergeire said in a briefing.

“Kinakailangan pa rin po ng masusing pag-aaral dahil limitado pa rin ang ating mga obserbasyon na nakukuha dito,” she added.

Foreign scientists have dubbed BA. 2 the “Stealth Omicron” because it has genetic traits that make it more difficult to identify using standard RT-PCR testing.

Since it is difficult to identify, experts fear it may be spreading less noticeably around the world.

At present, BA.2 has been detected in at least 49 countries and 17 US states.

“Habang kinikilala ang BA.1 bilang dominanteng sub-lineage internationally, dumadami na rin po ang na de-detect na BA.2 sa iba’t ibang bansa,”  Vergeire said.

Vergeire previously said the World Health Organization (WHO) and other experts are still studying the BA.2.

“Based on their initial findings and based on observing patients… wala naman masyadong difference with the Omicron as to the severity of illness,” she said.

The Philippines has detected a total of 535 Omicron cases.

Omicron dominant in NCR

Meanwhile, Vergeire said the Omicron variant may now be considered the predominant variant in the National Capital Region and other regions due to its increasing cases.

Vergeire said Omicron samples increased from 1.30% to 98.9% in January.

“Makikita sa graph ang mag-purple bars na biglang tumaas ang Omicron variant. Pinapakita natin na mula sa samples na pinakamataas na ang Omicron variant sa ating bansa,” she said.

The Philippines on Monday logged 24,938 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the active tally to 262,997.  (MNS)

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