The Philippines has not yet detected the new Omicron subvariant XBB, the Department of Health (DOH) said. 

The XBB variant is a recombinant of BJ.1 (BA.2.10.1 sublineage) and BM.1.1.1 (BA.2.75 sublineage).

Citing preliminary studies, the DOH said that the “sublineage shows higher immune evasion ability than BA.5.”

“As of October 13, we have not detected the said variant in the Philippines. 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 in a statement.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) website showed that the Omicron subvariants under observation are BA.5, BA.2.75, BJ.1, BA.4.6, XBB, and BA.2.3.20.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) said earlier that the city-state is experiencing “an increase in local cases driven by XBB, including the post-weekend spike this Tuesday. 

“The number of severe cases has remained relatively low. This is very likely due to the resilience built up through vaccination and previous waves of infection. We are monitoring the trajectory closely,” it said.

The MOH also rejected the rumors that Singapore is “having a rapid and large increase in cases with severe illness and deaths due to the circulating XBB strain.”

“This is not true. We are initiating POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act) action against such falsehoods,” it added.



Ronald Espartinez