THE Philippines has already surpassed the “critical stage” of the omicron subvariant XBB.1.16 or Arcturus, an infectious disease expert said Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

In a Laging Handa public hearing, Dr. Rontgene Solante said the downward trend of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases and hospitalization in the country is an indication that the country has finished another wave caused by Arcturus, which was blamed for an increase of cases in other countries over the past months.

Arcturus, a descendent lineage of XBB, a recombinant of two BA.2 descendent lineages, was reported to be more transmissible and has the ability to evade immunity. It was earlier designated as a variant of interest by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Octa Research earlier noted the decrease of Covid-19 positivity rates in various provinces in the country as well as in the National Capital Region (NCR), the primary contributor of cases in the country.

As of June 3, NCR’s positivity rate went down to 22.5 percent from 21.7 percent on May 27.

Solante said, though, that the public should remain vigilant and continue observing health protocols, noting that there were still variants tagged as under monitoring by the WHO.

Among these variants are BA.2.75, CH.1.1, BQ.1, XBB, XBB.1.9.1, XBB.1.9.2, and XBB.2.3.

Solante is also hoping that more bivalent Covid-19 vaccines will be available in the country.

On Saturday evening, June 3, around 390,000 doses of bivalent vaccines arrived in the country as a donation from Lithuania.

Bivalent reportedly targets the omicron variant, the most transmissible form of Covid-19 that caused resurgence of cases in the country early in 2022.

The health department said the bivalent vaccines will first be administered to healthcare workers and senior citizens whose recent vaccination for the virus was given four months ago.

As of June 6, the Philippines has a total of 13,243 active Covid-19 cases in which 9,107 were detected from May 29 to June 4.

The daily average cases is at 1,301, 22 percent lower than the cases on May 22 to 28.

The hospitalization rate was at 23 percent, while the intensive care units were 18.9 percent occupied.

Over 78 million individuals were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, in which more than 23 million had booster shots. (SunStar Philippines)