MANILA - The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is the lone Philippine region where the COVID-19 Delta variant has yet to be detected, a health official said Thursday.
This does not mean that the more virulent COVID-19 strain is not present in the Bangsamoro, said Dr. Alethea De Guzman, director of the Department of Health's (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau.
"Iyon ay maaaring dahil kaunti pa ang samples na nakukuha natin sa region," she said in an online brieifing.
The Delta variant - which is known to be more contagious than the original COVID-19 strain - accounts for about 11 percent of all sequenced samples in the Philippines, she said.
The DOH earlier confirmed that there is already community transmission of the Delta variant in the National Capital Region and in Calabarzon, but it would be difficult to declare a community transmission nationwide, De Guzman said.
"Halos lahat ng Delta cases sa NCR, Calabarzon, hindi na natin nali-link. They do not know each other. They come from different places," she said.
"It will be very difficult to declare community transmission nationally because each region has different profiles kaya pinag-aaralan pa natin sa ibang lugar," she said.
So far, "we have no evidence that Delta is causing less or more severe disease," De Guzman said.
The DOH has begun shifting from purposive sampling to representative sampling to get a better picture of which variants are dominant in certain areas in the Philippines, she said.
"The sampling methodology we employ is very biased towards determining variants of concern... Inuuna natin na maisama yung mga severe and critical cases [sa sampling]," she said.
"Now that we have more available kits... We have started doing representative sampling meaning hindi lang tayo nakatutok sa mga lugar na may pagtaas ng kaso," she said.
All variants of concern in the country account for 59 percent of 10,412 samples sequenced, data from the DOH showed.
As of August 21, 2021, the Philippines has detected 2,322 Alpha variant cases, 2,588 Beta variant patients, and 1,273 Delta variant samples.