No new XBB variant here yet

The Department of Health on Thursday said the new strain of Omicron subvariant known as XBB has not yet been detected in the country.

“As of 13 October, we have not detected the said variant in the Philippines,” the Health department said referring to the so-called XBB variant which is a recombinant of BJ.1 (BA.2.10.1 sublineage) and BM.1.1.1 (BA.2.75 sublineage).

“Preliminary studies suggest that the sublineage shows higher immune evasion ability than BA.5,” the DoH added.

The agency also assured the public that it is continuously monitoring the situation regarding the matter through whole genome sequencing.

“The DoH, in partnership with our local sequencing facilities, is continuously conducting surveillance to monitor the importation of this variant and other emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants,” it said.

The statement came after the Ministry of Health of Singapore announced there has been an increase in the local cases driven by XBB.

Health experts attributed the recent increase in the number of local cases, including the post-weekend spike of 11,732 cases earlier this week to the new Omicron subvariant.

However, it denied claims that Singapore is seeing a significant increase in severe Covid-19 cases and deaths due to the XBB strain.

Several countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, India, Japan, and the United States have also reported similar cases of the said variant since August.

Meanwhile, the country reported a total of 14,333 Covid-19 cases from 3 to 9 October, which is 10 percent lower compared to the cases recorded two weeks ago.

Based on the latest data from the Health department, the current daily average cases is 2,048.

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