MANILA - A local transmission of the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is likely happening in the Philippines, a member of the country's vaccine expert panel said Wednesday.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said of the 35 Delta variant carriers in the Philippines, 8 are still positive cases, but stopped short of confirming that there was already local transmission of the strain.
"I would speculate na base on the cases na na-document ng Philippine Genome Center, may mga cases na hindi related sa returning OFWs," said Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of adult infectious diseases department at San Lazaro Hospital.
"With that demograph, mukhang mayroong local transmission ang Delta variant," he told state television PTV.
The term "local transmission" is used if there is evidence that a local case has already transmitted the virus to another local case, DOH Epidemiology Bureau Dir. Alethea De Guzman said.
The DOH earlier denied that there is already a local transmission of the more virulent variant, saying Delta variant cases in the country have been "sporadic."
"It is sporadic in some of the areas. Ini-investigate pa natin kung may linkage na sila sa isa't isa at saan nila nakuha itong Delta variant na ito," De Guzman said in an earlier press conference.
(We are investigating if there are linkages among these cases and where they got this Delta variant.)
Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno said 4 active Delta variant cases in the city are still in isolation to deter the spread of the strain in the area.
"Abundance of caution. Kailangan maniguro tayo na wala nang naiwan diyan na Delta variant," he said.
(We need to ensure that there will be no Delta variant strains left here.)
The Delta variant - which was first detected in India - is more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain due to the presence of the L452R mutation, which allows the virus to get past the immune system and spread faster in cells.