WHO says Delta variant now dominant in Philippines

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com

Community spread of Delta also confirmed

MANILA, Philippines — A majority of recent samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center are of the hyper contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, making it the most dominant variant in the Philippines, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

The Delta variant was found in 68.98% of the 748 samples sequenced recently. 

"The Delta variant is now the dominant variant in the Philippines [based on] existing data we are seeing," Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, said in a briefing.

Abeyasinghe also confirmed the community spread of the Delta variant, which is the fastest and fittest form of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

"Are we in community transmission? Most certainly. We do know the Delta variant spreads very fast, [is] more transmissible, has shorter incubation period. So, yes, with this kind of transmission, with this kind of numbers we are in community transmission with Delta variant," he added.

Community transmission occurs when there is a clustering of cases and there are no longer links among individuals who contracted COVID-19. Last week, the Department of Health confirmed the community spread of the Delta variant in Metro Manila and Calabarzon. 

The Philippines is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections, driven by the Delta variant, which is putting the country's health system under pressure. The government on Sunday reported 22,366 new cases — largest daily increase since the pandemic began.

“We know that the Delta variant, because of its high transmissibility, will replace the other variants of concern and so what we are seeing here in the Philippines is not unique. It has been seen in many other countries,” Abeyasinghe said.

Health authorities have so far detected 1,789 cases of the Delta variant.

Abeyasinghe called on unvaccinated senior citizens and people with comorbidities to get COVID-19 shots.

“What we’re seeing in regions like the National Capital Region where the proportion of vaccination is higher, we are seeing less severe disease, less deaths and less case fatality rate because vaccines work,” he said, as he encouraged the public to follow minimum public health protocols.

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