MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the spike in COVID-19 cases in Visayas is because of the P3 virus variant.
In the last 2 weeks, Western Visayas recorded a 63-percent growth, Central Visayas logged a 59-percent increase, while Eastern Visayas reported a 118-percent spike in coronavirus cases, data from the DOH showed.
While a foreign variant of the virus has yet to be detected in the area within the said time period, the DOH confirmed the presence of the P.3 variant - which originated in the Philippines - in the island group.
But there is still no data to show its impact, said DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea De Guzman.
"We have not yet established the impact of the P.3 variant," De Guzman said in a text message to reporters.
"It would be premature to conclude that the P.3 has significantly contributed to the case increases in areas where it was detected," she said.
The possible presence of variants - which are seen to be more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain - "was not the sole reason for these case increases," she said.
"We saw that in areas with spikes, we need improvements in correct and consistent implementation of minimum public health standard compliance," De Guzman said.
The slow implementation of the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy in the Visayas is also a possible factor in the sudden spread of COVID-19 in the island group, she said.
"We continually work with our LGUs and workplaces to ensure that these safeguards and safety protocols are in place as well as the vaccination of priority groups as effective measure to prevent and control case transmission," she said.
Malacañang denied that it has been neglecting Visayas and Mindanao in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, which supposedly contributed to a spike in coronavirus infections in these areas.