MANILA (UPDATE) - Four Filipinos have tested positive for the COVID-19 Delta variant, bringing the total number of Filipinos infected with it to 17, the government said Monday.
Three of them are seafarers from the MV Eastern Hope, a ship currently docked in South Korea, while the fourth case arrived from Saudi Arabia on May 24, the Department of Health said in a statement.
"Upon detection of the PCR-positive Filipino crew in South Korea, they were repatriated back to the Philippines on June 3, 2021," it said.
"Two cases have completed the 10-day isolation after arrival in the country and were discharged upon certification of recovery, while one is still admitted in a hospital in Metro Manila," it added.
The Delta variant carrier from Saudi Arabia "has completed the mandated isolation" and has been considered as a recovered patient on June 10, the DOH said.
None of the 4 traveled to India, where the strain was first detected, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.
The 3 seafarers traveled to Japan and South Korea, while the other Delta variant case came straight from the the Middle East, she said.
"Bago siya umalis ng Saudi, tinest siya, negative siya. Pagdating dito, doon lumabas na positibo siya," she said.
(He was tested negative for COVID-19 before he left Saudi, but tested positive after he arrived in the Philippines.)
Of the total 17 Delta variant carriers in the Philippines, one died while the rest have either recuperated or are still recovering from COVID-19, Vergeire said.
Aside from the additional Delta variant cases, the DOH said 14 Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant cases, 21 Beta (B.1.351) variant cases, and one Theta (P.3) variant case were also confirmed to have recently entered the Philippines.
"Of the additional 14 Alpha variant cases detected, 12 are local cases while two are being verified as to whether these are local or returning overseas Filipino (ROF) cases," the DOH said.
Among these 14, two died while 12 have recovered from the disease.
Of the "21 Beta variant cases detected, 20 are local cases while one case is being verified as to whether this is a local or ROF case," the Health department said.
"Based on the case line list, 20 cases have been tagged as recovered and one case is currently active," it added.
The Philippines now has recorded 1,085 Alpha variant cases (first detected in the United Kingdom) and 1,267 Beta variant cases (first detected in South Africa), according to data from the DOH.
"The additional Theta variant case is currently being verified as to whether this is a local or ROF case. The case has already been tagged as recovered," the DOH said.
"Currently, the Theta variant is not identified as a variant of concern (VOC) since more data is needed to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications," the agency said.
The Philippines needs to be more vigilant against the entry of the Delta variant in the country as it is 2 times more infectious than the Alpha, a COVID-19 mutation that is 60 percent more contagious than the virus' original strain, Vergeire said.
The DOH earlier said that there were delays in the identification of foreign variants that may have entered the country due to the lack of genome sequencing kits.
"The procurement of reagents for whole genome sequencing for the rest of the year was initiated by a grant of P180 million by the DOH to the UP-PGC last May 2021," the agency said.
"After undergoing the government procurement process, the reagents shall arrive at the UP-PGC this week," it said.