MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has recorded six new cases of the B.1.351 variant (South Africa variant) of COVID-19; 30 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant) and 2 cases additional cases with mutations of interest.
An official statement issued by the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said, the new cases were among 8th batch of 350 samples sequenced by the UP-Philippine Genome Center.
Of the six South African variant cases, three are local cases, two are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and one case is still being verified as to location.
The three local cases were reported as residents of Pasay City. Meanwhile, the two returning overseas Filipinos arrived in the country from UAE and Qatar; their statuses are currently being verified. Moreover, the DOH is currently verifying if the sixth case is a local case or an imported case.
“To date, there are already 48 countries with reported cases of the B.1.351 variant. While there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease, the pattern of mutations within this variant suggests higher transmissibility and may have an impact on vaccine efficacy,” DOH said.
Meanwhile, of the 30 new cases of the UK variant 20 of these are ROFs; three are local cases, and seven are currently being verified if these are local cases or ROFs.
The 20 detected ROFs entered the country from the Middle East, Singapore, and the United States of America between January 20 and February 16, 2021. Thirteen (13) of these are asymptomatic active cases, while seven have now recovered.
On the other hand, the three (3) local B.1.1.7 variant cases are from the Cordillera Administrative Region.
One case is currently active and is admitted to a hospital, one has recovered, and one is a reported fatality. The relation of the 3 local cases to previously reported B.1.1.7 variant cases in the region is currently being investigated.
On the cases with mutations of interest, the latest sequencing results showed that two (2) additional samples from Region 7 were found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.
The DOH reiterated that despite the arrival of the vaccines in the country, adherence to minimum public health standards is still the best course of action to prevent community transmission and further virus mutations.