MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday confirmed the local transmission of the Omicron BA.5 subvariant in the country but clarified no established community spread yet.

In a Laging Handa briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said declaring community transmission would mean that health authorities could no longer establish a link between one case to another.

Local transmission, on the other hand, means a detected case got infected by a local source who had no history of travel overseas.

"Sa ngayon we cannot say that there is really community transmission because if we say community transmission, hindi na po natin nakikita 'yong linkage ng isang kaso sa isang kaso pa so ngayon nakikita pa naman natin (At present, we cannot say that there is really a community transmission because if we say we do, that means we cannot establish the linkage anymore, which we can still do," she said.

"So what we have right now is the local transmission of the subvariant but (for) the community transmission we still need to establish that through evidence," she added.

The DOH had detected the BA.5 in two locals from the same household in Central Luzon, one of whom is a 39-year-old female while the other is a 51-year-old male.

Both took only domestic trips, including Bulacan for the elections and Metro Manila for work.

Vergeire said the two manifested cough and cold on May 15, prompting them to get tested that later turned out positive for coronavirus.

They had their isolation from May 16 to 30 and have already recovered.

Meanwhile, one of their two close contacts in the household had tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently undergoing isolation.

Vergeire said initial studies suggest that the BA.5 and BA.4 are "much transmissible" than the BA.2 sublineage, including BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1.

She, however, noted there is no evidence as of yet that the said subvariant causes a more severe case of Covid-19. (PNA)