THE CORONAVIRUS infection rate in Manila, the capital and nearby cities has increased, pandemic monitoring group OCTA Research Group said on Wednesday night, days after the Philippines detected its first case of a new Omicron subvariant that is spreading fast in more than 30 countries.
The seven-day positivity rate in the National Capital Region had increased to 12.3% from 8.1% a week ago, OCTA Research fellow Fredegusto P. David tweeted.
In an interview with ABS-CBN Teleradyo on Thursday, Mr. David said the increase was significant.
He cited the possible spread of Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, which the Department of Health (DoH) said could evade immunity and is found to be more transmissible. Also called Arcturus, the subvariant comes from XBB, a recombinant of two BA.2 descendent lineages.
“This is a highly contagious subvariant,” Mr. David said.
The World Health Organization has labeled XBB.1. 16 a variant of interest.
The Philippines’ first XBB.1.16 patient — a Filipino from Iloilo province in central Philippines — was asymptomatic and had since recovered, the Health department said on Wednesday.
“Based on the latest risk assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) last April 17, no changes in severity have been reported in countries where XBB.1.16. are reported to be circulating,” it said.
“There may have been a slight increase in bed occupancy in India and Indonesia, but levels are still much lower compared with the effects of the previous variants,” it added.
“Overall, risk assessment is said to be low.”
The DoH reported the country’s first XBB.116 case in a report on Tuesday. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza