The Department of Health (DOH) reported that it has detected three additional cases of the Omicron COVID-19 subvariant XBB.1.16, raising the tally to four.
The DOH further said the three local XBB.1.16 cases were found in Western Visayas, ABS-CBN News reported.
XBB.1.16, also known as “Arcturus,” is a descendent lineage of XBB, a recombinant of two BA.2 descendent lineages. The DOH previously said the strain is capable of evading immunity and appears to be more contagious than previous variants.
The DOH, quoted by ABS-CBN News, added that COVID-19 cases continued to increase, with a daily average of 1,533 cases as of May 10, which is 75 percent higher from last week. This is similar to the number of cases reported on July 11, 2022, with 1,506 cases per day, it added.
The agency also detected 197 new cases of omicron subvariants.
President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr. meanwhile said the Philippines has already been on “normal footing” even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a media interview on board his flight back to the Philippines, Mr. Marcos said there is no need to restore the emergency status in the country concerning the global health emergency downgrade.
“So we don’t need to do anything. We are already on normal footing.
Nauna pa tayo sa kanila (We were ahead of them). And in terms of the… requirement that we used to have for a valid vaccine certificate, wala, matagal nang tinanggal ‘yun (we removed that long ago),” he said.
“So now we have the e-Pass that’s much easier to use. That was… to make the ease of travel better. But we did that a few months back.”
House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez said the WHO declaration should pave the way for the Philippines to sustain economic growth or even take the economy to a higher growth path.
The lifting would translate to increased mobility, more economic activities, and therefore additional job and income opportunities for workers and their families, Romualdez added.
He noted that the lifting of travel restrictions would also mean more tourists visiting the Philippines.
“Let the concerned government agencies and sectors of the economy prepare for this possibility, which will benefit tourist destinations and local communities,” he said.
Romualdez, however, maintained that the public should not be complacent and always observe the minimum health requirements – wearing face masks when necessary, regularly washing hands, isolating when sick, getting vaccinated, and keeping physical distancing – to avoid being infected with Covid-19. (PNA)