DOH detects nearly 700 Filipinos infected with new COVID-19 variants

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2021 04:02 PM | Updated as of May 05 2021 11:37 AM

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MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said about 700 new COVID-19 patients in the country are infected with variants of the disease.

From 744 samples sequenced last week, 289 patients were found to be infected with the UK variant (B.1.1.7), 380 with the South African variant (B.1.351) variant, and 9 with the Philippine variant (P.3), the DOH said in a statement, citing data from the University of the Philippines Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH).

"[The] B.1.351 is the most common variant among the samples sequenced with assigned lineages, contrary to reports that it is now the dominant variant in the country," the DOH said.

The COVID-19 variant which originated in the Philippines is "not identified as a variant of concern (VOC) since current data is insufficient to determine whether the variant will have significant public health implications," it said.

UK VARIANT

Over half of those infected with the UK variant caught the virus locally, while 48 others are overseas Filipino workers who had returned home, the DOH said.

The agency is still verifying how 56 other patients were infected with the virus.

Among those infected with the UK variant, 284 have recovered, 2 died, while 3 others continue to battle the disease.

SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT

Nearly 200 of the 380 patients infected with the South African variant were local cases, while 107 are Filipinos who came from abroad, the DOH said.

The origin of 77 B.1.351 cases are still being verified, the agency said.

"Based on the case line list, 1 case is still active and 379 cases have been tagged as recovered."

PHILIPPINE VARIANT

The 9 carriers of the Philippine variant have recovered from the disease, the DOH said.

Three were from overseas, 4 from local communities, and the origin of 2 others are still being verified, it said.

So far, the UP-PGC has sequenced a total of 7,167 samples, of which 5,917 were assigned lineages, according to data from the DOH.

"Among the samples with assigned lineages, the B.1.351 composed 18.2 percent, the B.1.1.7 composed 16 percent, the P.3 composed 2.7 percent," it said.

The national government hopes to curb the transmission of COVID-19 as more Filipinos get vaccinated against the virus, the DOH said.

"The DOH calls on the public to strictly and consistently adhere to the minimum public health standards to minimize the risk of exposure and infection," it said.

As of May 4, at least 5 cities have begun administering Sputnik V jabs to medical frontliners. 

The Philippines is expected to receive 485,000 additional doses of the Russian-made vaccine in the coming months as the national government hopes to inoculate some 70 million Filipinos within the year.

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