Philippines detects 1st case of new Omicron subvariant

The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday that it has detected the first case of Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16.

The latest DOH surveillance report said the new Omicron subvariant, also called Arcturus, was detected from a sample from the Western Visayas region in the central Philippines.

The DOH report said that of the 89 recent samples sequenced released from April 12 to 17, 39 (43.82 percent) were classified as XBB, including one XBB.1.16 case.

According to the WHO, most of the XBB.1.16 are from India. The subvariant was also found in the United States, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Brunei, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

“The global risk assessment of XBB.1.16 is low compared to XBB.1.5 and the other currently circulating variants, at this current time and with the available evidence,” the WHO added.

Since the coronavirus emerged in the Philippines in January 2020, the country has logged 4,089,394 confirmed COVID-19 infections, including 66,444 deaths.

The DOH logged a daily average of less than 500 cases from April 17 to April 23. ■

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