THE PHILIPPINES has detected 167 more cases of three highly contagious Omicron subvariants, according to health authorities.

Authorities found 140 new cases of the Omicron BA.5, 20 more cases of the BA2.12.1, and seven more cases of the BA.4 in the latest whole genome sequencing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told a news briefing.

The country now has 233 BA.5, 70 BA.2.12.1 and 10 BA.4 cases, she added.

Of the new BA.5 cases, 99 came from Western Visayas, 21 from Metro Manila, seven from Calabarzon, five from Ilocos region, and one each from the Cordillera, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao, Ms. Vergeire said. One came from abroad.

She said 129 of the new BA.5 cases have recovered, while four had been isolated. The conditions of other patients were still being verified.

Ms. Vergeire said of 20 new BA.2.12.1 cases, five came from Metro Manila, four each from Western Visayas and Calabarzon, two from the Cordillera, and one from the Ilocos region. Four were from abroad, she added. 

She said 17 of them have recovered, while the conditions of the others were still being verified.

Meanwhile, nine of the 20 new BA.2.12.1 patients experienced mild symptoms, she added.

The Health department said six of the seven additional BA.4 cases came from the Bicol region, while one was from Metro Manila. All of them have recovered. 

Meanwhile, businessman Jose Maria A. Concepcion III said medical and economic experts are proposing to simplify the country’s coronavirus alert level by using color codes.

The “traffic light approach,” which was proposed at a consultion led by the businessman, should be determined at the local government level, he said in a statement.

A red-yellow-green color-coded classification would mean high-medium-low alert levels, he said.

“This system is already familiar to the public,” Mr. Concepcion said, noting that the system is used in disaster risk management.

The group recommended the use of two metrics — healthcare use rates and the number of infections for a thousand people — in determining the alert level. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and RMDO