The Philippines detected 14 cases of the Omicron BQ.1, which is a sublineage of the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant, the Department of Health (DOH) said. 

The health department said the 14 BQ.1 cases have been detected based on the latest genome sequencing of the UP-Philippine Genome Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and San Lazaro Hospital from October 28 to November 18.

Among the said number, 13 were local cases from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 1, 4A, 7, and National Capital Region (NCR).

The DOH has yet to confirm if the last case is a returning overseas Filipino (ROF).

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a press briefing that BQ.1 is “more transmissible and highly immune evasive” compared to other Omicron subvariants.

“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,” she said.

“Pero we have always reiterated to everybody that it is time for us that our mindset would be that yes, we are aware that there are these variant and subvariant being detected in the country but we should also be aware whatever variants and subvariants may be detected, our protocols for us to get direction and also to protect our families are all the same,” she said.

Vergeire advised the public to follow the minimum public health protocols and get vaccinated against Covid-19. 

“All these subvariants being published or nadetect natin through our sequencing results pareho pa rin ang ating protection na kailangan, it should always be our minimum public health standards pati na rin po ang pagbabakuna tayo,” Vergeire said.

“We continuously remind our public that is why, that is also the reason we are not so much not welling on informing and disseminating this kind of information though in the spirit of transparency also we posted in our website,” she added.

“But that’s should not be the focus of our citizens now, the focus should be how we get ourselves protected and that is vaccination and following our minimum public health standards,” she said.


Ronald Espartinez