April 26, 2023
MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) reported the first case of the XBB.1.16 Omicron subvariant of COVID-19, also called the “Arcturus,” in its latest biosurveillance report.
Based on the report, the said case was detected in Western Visayas.
According to the DOH, the XBB.1.16 is a sublineage of the XBB subvariant recently added by the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on March 22 and 23, respectively.
“The variant was initially flagged due to its increasing global prevalence and for having mutations which may lead to increase in infectivity or pathogenicity,” said the DOH.
“The variant has been detected in 33 countries or jurisdictions across six continents, according to sequence submissions in Global initiative on sharing avian flu data,” it added.
The DOH also explained that current evidence for XBB.1.16 does not suggest differences in disease severity and clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant.
Meanwhile, the same report also recorded 89 additional variants of COVID-19 — 85 of which were subvariants of Omicron, while the other four had no lineages specified.
Of the 85, 39 belonged in the XBB subvariant (14 were XBB.1.9.1, 13 were XBB.1.5, one was the XBB.1.16, while the rest were other XBB sublineages), while 28 were cases of the BA.2.3.20.
Twelve belonged to the BA.5 subvariant, while three belonged to XBC and “other omicron sublineages.”
The XBB subvariant remains the country’s most dominant strain, with 1,861 cases recorded and the XBC following at second with a total of 764.