December 2, 2022

(Eagle News) — The Philippines has detected 14 cases of the more transmissible Omicron subvariant BQ.1, the Department of Health said on Friday, Nov. 25.

According to the DOH, based on the latest genome sequencing conducted by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and San Lazaro Hospital from October 28 to November 18, 13 were local cases from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 1, 4A, 7, and National Capital Region.

“What we know so far from this BQ.1, it is more transmissible and also highly immune evasive compared to the other subvariants of Omicron,” DOH officer-in-charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire said.

She urged Filipinos to follow minimum safety health protocols.

The government has allowed the optional wearing of masks indoors and outdoors in its efforts to ease restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said by mid-November to the beginning of December 2022, more than 50% of COVID-19 infections will be due to BQ.1 and its closely related BQ.1.1.

“The observed increase in the growth rate of BQ.1 is probably driven mainly by immune escape,” the ECDC said.