PH logs 12 EG.5 cases; WHO labels it ‘variant of interest’
PH logs 12 EG.5 cases; WHO labels it ‘variant of interest’
PH logs 12 EG.5 cases; WHO labels it ‘variant of interest’
by Mhillen Nicole Borja11 August 2023
Photo courtesy: Getty

The Philippines has registered a total of 12 cases of EG.5, new subvariant of COVID-19 Omicron, as reported by the Department of Health (DOH).

In the most recent biosurveillance update, encompassing the period from July 26 to August 1, 2023, a total of 767 samples were scrutinized through sequencing procedures by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the University of the Philippines - Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) Main and Mindanao.

The results categorized the samples as follows: 647 (84.35%) were grouped as XBB, inclusive of 41 cases of XBB.1.5, 181 instances of XBB.1.16, 140 cases of XBB.1.9.1, seven occurrences of XBB.1.9.2, and 228 cases of XBB.2.3.

Additionally, 35 samples (4.56%) were identified as BA.2.3.20, 15 samples (1.96%) as BA.5, two samples (0.26%) as XBC, one sample (0.13%) as CH.1.1, and three samples (0.39%) as various other sublineages of Omicron.


'Variant of interest'

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the EG.5 variant as a 'variant of interest,' as it spreads within the United States (US).

This novel virus strain has also been detected in countries of China, South Korea, Japan, and Canada.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the Technical Lead of COVID-19 at WHO, said although the transmissibility of EG.5 has increased, its impact on human health is not more severe compared to earlier iterations of the Omicron variant.


"We don't detect a change in severity of EG.5 compared to other sublineages of Omicron that have been in circulation since late 2021," she reassured.

Based on the WHO's report, the EG.5 variant accounts for over 17% of virus cases in the US.

In May, the WHO concluded the global health emergency for COVID-19, marking the end of a period after over three years.


Following this, President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. has approved the lifting of the country's COVID-19 public health emergency last month.

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