Philippines sees more cases of COVID-19 variants, including local P.3
Residents affected by the renewed enhanced community quarantine wait for their turn as they claim their cash assistance from the government inside the Old Balara Elementary school in Quezon City on Thursday midnight, April 8, 2021.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Philippines sees more cases of COVID-19 variants, including local P.3

(Philstar.com) - April 11, 2021 - 10:20am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has announced the detection of more cases from four COVID-19 variants in the country from results of genome sequencing of a combined 1,361 samples.

In a release late Saturday, the agency said these are mostly local cases, and are: 192 cases of the B.1.351 variant (South Africa), 170 of the B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom), 19 cases of the P.3 (Philippines) and one from the P.1 (Brazil).

The three variants detected from abroad are all classified as variants of concern, and have the N501Y mutation, which is associated with increased transmissibility.

Meanwhile, B.1.351 and P.1 carry the E484K mutation, which may help the virus evade some antibodies, possibly affecting vaccine efficacy.

DOH said cases of B.1.351 are 143 local cases, with one Returning Overseas Filipino, and 48 others still being verified if they are local or ROF. Two remain as active cases while three have died, and 187 since recovered.

There have also been 119 local cases of B.1.1.7, with 8 ROFs and 43 still being verified. DOH said from its list, two have died with 168 patients who already got well.

The detection of the homegrown variant or the P.3 was first announced on March 13. Despite it carrying two mutations, officials said it is not a variant of concern.

As of April 11, DOH said it has 10 new local cases of this variant, two ROFs and seven still being checked. All have since recovered, the agency added. 

The additional P.1 case is an ROF from Brazil and who is in the SOCCSKSARGEN region.

A table provided by the DOH shows most of the new cases of the B.1.351 and B.1.1.7 variants were detected in Metro Manila, at 84 and 126, respectively.

The current overall numbers are at: 392 cases of the B.1.1.7, 344 of the B.1.351, 123 of the P.3 and 2 of the P.1.

DOH last month said the presence of more people infected by variants is a factor in the surge in COVID-19 cases that has continued until April.

It, however, stopped short of saying that this is the main driver of the increases that became significant enough for many areas to return to the stricter lockdowns.

As it stands, Philippine coronavirus cases are at 853,209, with active cases climbing to 190,245 or accounting for 22.3% of the infections. — Christian Deiparine

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