A Filipino senior citizen who had no history of travel outside the country was the Philippines’ first-ever case of omicron subvariant XBF, the Department of Health said.

The XBF is associated with the recent spike of Covid-19 cases in Australia and Sweden. It is a recombinant sublineage of Omicron BA.5 and BA2.75.

“The first case detected here in the Philippines is from a Filipino senior citizen with no known history of travel, the individual presented mild symptoms, and has already been tagged as recovered,” the DOH said in a statement.

The XBF is considered as an Omicron subvariant under observation by the World Health Organization. Global experts are still characterizing the variant in terms of transmissibility, immune evasion, and ability to cause more severe disease.

“However, the local sample was detected at a time when the variant was not yet classified as a VUM (variant under monitoring),” the DOH said.

The health department said the XBF sample was gathered in December 2022 and was sequenced on Jan. 28, 2023.

“Variants are expected to emerge and what’s important is our cases have remained manageable through vaccination and boosters,” the DOH said. “Let’s continue to assess our own risk and employ our layers of protection and through vaccination and boosters.”


Ronald Espartinez