THE Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, December 23, 2022, shrugged off the country’s detection of the Omicron subvariant BF.7, which is currently the main variant spreading in Beijing and is contributing to a fresh surge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in China.

In a statement, the DOH said there is no cause for alarm after four cases of the BF.7 were detected in the latest whole genome sequencing report of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) as existing minimum public health standards (MPHS) are enough to prevent transmission.

“There are measures that we can address and control, rather than focusing on the presence of a transmissible variant,” said the DOH.

“If such factors will be adhered to and implemented by ourselves immediately, decline in cases may be observed sooner,” it added.

The DOH said the MPHS includes wearing best-fitting face masks, isolating when sick, doubling-up protection through vaccines and boosters, and ensuring good airflow.

On Thursday, the DOH reported that four BF.7 cases have already been detected in the country.

According to the DOH, the subvariant was initially flagged by researchers due to its potential to be more transmissible than the wild-type BA.5 and immune evading properties.

However, the DOH said current evidence for BF.7 does not suggest any differences in disease severity and/or clinical manifestations compared to the original Omicron variant.

“Currently, the subvariant is still reported under BA.5 by the World Health Organization, and will remain classified under Omicron until sufficient evidence arises showing that the virus characteristics are significantly different from Omicron,” noted the health department.

Aside from China, BF.7 has been detected in other countries, including India, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, France, and Denmark. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)