(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippines has detected Omicron BA.4 subvariant from a Filipino who flew in from the Middle East last May 4.

In an advisory on Saturday, the Department of Health (DOH) said the positive test result for the subvariant was from a specimen collected on May 8. The male patient was asymptomatic.

Since the case was confirmed, the agency has been coordinating with concerned local government units to implement detection and isolation activities.

The DOH noted that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) sees Omicron BA.4 as a variant of concern.

"While the ECDC has not observed any change in severity for BA.4 compared to other Omicron subvariants, we must be careful because faster transmission will lead to a spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals and clinics," it said.

The DOH said Omicron BA.4 spreads faster possibly because of its "ability to evade immune protection induced by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this has waned over time."

"All LGUs are strongly advised to proactively seek the unvaccinated and those eligible for boosters, and to make it convenient to get a jab," the DOH said, as it also urged the public to receive their vaccine dose. (PNA)