Philippines detects first case of coronavirus variant first found in Brazil

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Philippines detects first case of coronavirus variant first found in Brazil
A cop joins rounds as the local government imposed a seven-day granular lockdown on Block 41 Zones 4, 5, and 9 at Barangay Addition Hills in Mandaluyong City on Friday midnight, March 12, 2021 to limit the movement of residents and curb the spike in COVID-19 related cases.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine health authorities reported Saturday that they have detected the first case of the coronavirus variant first seen in Brazil called P.1 from a Filipino who came from the South American country and lives in Western Visayas.

Variant of concern: P.1 is considered a variant of concern, indicating an increased risk to human health. This variant carries the N501Y mutation, associated with increased transmissibility, and the 3484K mutation, which may help the virus dodge some antibodies.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte earlier reported that the “Brazilian variant” has been detected in her city, but this was refuted Wednesday by the Department of Health, saying that what was found was a variant of Brazilian origin (B1.1.28), but not a variant of concern.

According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the P.1 variant is a branch off the B.1.1.28 lineage. It was first identified last January in travelers from Brazil who arrived in Japan.

More variants found: Health authorities also announced that they have detected 59 more cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) and 32 more cases of the variant first seen in South Africa (B.1.351).

These variants are also variants of concern. Both B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 carry the N501Y mutation, while B.1.351 carries the E484K mutation.

Of the additional 59 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, the DOH said 30 are local cases, 18 are from returning overseas Filipinos, while it is verifying whether 11 are local cases or are from returning overseas Filipinos.

The DOH said 16 of the new local B.1.1.7 cases are from the Cordillera Administrative Region, 10 are from Metro Manila, two are from Central Luzon and two more are from Calabarzon.

Meanwhile, of the 32 new cases of the B.1.351 variant, the DOH said 21 are local cases, one is a returning overseas Filipino, while it is verifying whether 10 are local cases or are from returning overseas Filipinos.

The DOH said 19 of the new local B.1.351 cases are from Metro Manila, one is from Cagayan Valley and another one is from Northern Mindanao.

There are now a total of 177 B.1.1.7 cases and 90 B.1.351 cases, according to the DOH.

Viruses, like SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19, mutate all the time. Mutation refers to the actual change in the virus genetic sequence and may result in the virus being more transmissible, increase in disease severity or influence efficacy of diagnostics or vaccines, the World Health Organization said. — with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico


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