Philippines detects 83 more cases of coronavirus variants first seen in UK, South Africa
This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Image captured and colorized at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana.

Philippines detects 83 more cases of coronavirus variants first seen in UK, South Africa

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - March 5, 2021 - 2:00pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:15 p.m.) — Philippine health authorities reported Friday the detection of a total of 83 additional cases of the more infectious coronavirus variants first seen in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Of these, 52 are infected with B.1.351, or the variant first identified in South Africa. Meanwhile, 31 are infected with B.1.1.7 or the variant that originated in the UK.

In a statement, the Department said samples came from Metro Manila, Central Visayas and returning overseas Filipinos. 

“Of the 52 cases who tested positive for the B.1.351 variant, 41 have indicative addresses in National Capital Region, while 11 cases are being verified if these are local cases or ROFs,” the DOH said. 

One case from Metro Manila has recovered, while the remaining 51 cases are currently tagged as active and are being managed.

The country confirmed the detection of the variant first seen in South Africa Tuesday, a day after the government launched its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 with Sinovac shots donated by the Chinese government. 

The B.1.351 variant carries a mutation called N501Y, which is also present in the B.1.1.7 variant. It also carries another mutation called E484K, which may help the virus dodge some kinds of antibodies.

The department earlier said that while there is no evidence the variant from South Africa causes more severe disease, it “may have an impact on vaccine efficacy.” It said it is targeting a “fast containment” of the said variant. 

The World Health Organization stands by the use of AstraZeneca vaccine after a preliminary study suggested the jab offered less protection against B.1.351, its representative to the Philippines said Thursday. 

Some 487,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine obtained through the COVAX Facility arrived in the country Thursday night. Its rollout is expected to “start immediately,” testing czar Vince Dizon said in an interview with CNN Philippines. 

More cases of UK variant

Of the 31 additional cases of the variant first detected in the UK, the DOH said 28 have indicative addresses in Metro Manila. The locations of the other three cases are still being verified. 

All of them are active cases. 

The agency also reported the detection of 42 cases “with mutations of potential clinical significance” or those found with N501Y and E484K mutations. 

Of these, 34 cases are from Central Visayas—with 22 already recovered from the disease—and six patients have indicative address in Metro Manila. Authorities are checking if the remaining two are local cases or ROFs. 

The cases from Metro Manila and the two that are still being verified are tagged as active cases. 

“Everyone is reminded of their individual responsibilities to follow the minimum public health standards at all times and in all settings. The conscious effort of properly wearing a mask and face shield, and observing physical distancing will keep you and everyone around you protected from COVID-19,” the DOH said. 

To date, the Philippines has recorded over 584,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 12,000 deaths.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 22, 2021 - 12:43pm

A thread on new variants of SARS-CoV-2 reported in the Philippines.

March 22, 2021 - 12:43pm

New variants of COVID-19, such as those first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, have been detected in all Metro Manila cities.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says the variants have contributed to the spike in the number of cases in the capital region.

March 17, 2021 - 9:28am

COVID-19 variants first detected in the Philippines have reached the United Kingdom.

In its latest update, Public Health England announces it has identified two cases of the variant P.3 in England.

"One of the cases is linked with international travel and the other is currently under investigation. All appropriate public health interventions are being undertaken," it says.

March 13, 2021 - 11:05am

The Department of Health detects the first case of coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil.

The health department also detects 59 more cases of the coronavirus variant first seen in the UK and 32 more cases of the variant first seen in South Africa.

March 5, 2021 - 1:26pm

The Department of Health reports 52 additional cases B.1.351 variant (South Africa variant) cases and 31 more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant) in the country.

Among the latest batch of samples sequenced by the UP-Philippine Genome Center, there are also 42 new cases with mutations in Central Visayas.

"The DOH and its concerned Centers for Health Development is coordinating with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Local Government Units (LGUs) in NCR and Region 7 to institute measures to contain further transmission of these variants and mutations," the DOH says.

March 2, 2021 - 8:25am

The DOH reports two additional samples from Central Visayas with both N501Y and E484K mutations.

Meanwhile, two cases from the region previously reported to have the mutations have been delisted. The total of these mutations in the country remain at 34 cases.

"Despite the arrival of vaccines and the successful initial vaccination activities, the DOH emphasizes that adherence to minimum public health standards is still the best course of action to prevent community transmission and further virus mutations," the DOH says.

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