MANILA - The Department of Health on Thursday said there was "no need to panic" after the more contagious COVID-19 variant first discovered in the UK was detected in the Philippines.
The agency urges the public to "comply strictly" with minimum health standards to avoid transmission, said spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Minimum health protocols include wearing of face masks, frequent handwashing, and observing physical distance, authorities earlier said.
"I’d just like to remind the public, unang-una po tungkol sa variant, there is no need to panic actually kung tayo lang po ay susunod sa minimum public health standards," she told ANC's Headstart.
(I’d just like to remind the public, first on the COVID-19 variant, there is no need to panic actually if we just follow minimum public health standards.)
"Di po siya nagbago ng transmission. 'Yun pa rin po. Wala pong sinasabi na mas magkakaroon ng severe disease pero kung patuloy na kakalat maaaring magkaroon ng mas madaming hospitalization."
(The transmission did not change. No one said it will cause severe disease but if it continues to spread there might be more hospitalizations.)
The country last week established regular genome sequencing or biosurveillance of positive COVID-19 cases, Vergeire said.
Genome sequencing was previously done in the form of a study, Vergeire said, citing the discovery of COVID-19 variant D614G in July.
"Ngayon regularly na po natin gagawin and we can be able to determine if really ito pong variant na ito ay matagal na pong nandito sa ating bansa," she said.
(Now we'll do it regularly and we will be able to determine if this variant has been in the country for sometime.)
The Philippines on Wednesday reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant with a 29-year-old male patient from Dubai who arrived Jan. 7.
The patient has mild symptoms and is under isolation at a Quezon City facility, Vergeire earlier said. Some of his close contacts have been identified and an expanded tracing is ongoing, she added.