38 new cases of different variants of SARS-CoV-2 detected: DOH

MANILA – A total of 38 new cases of the different variants that mutated from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), have been detected in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

Of these 38 cases, six were of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant, 30 of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, and two cases with “mutations of interest” — all found among the eighth batch of 350 samples sequenced by the University of the Philippines (UP) — Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC).

South Africa variant cases

Out of the six South African variant cases, the DOH said three were local cases, two were detected from returning overseas Filipinos (ROF), and one case where the location is still being verified.

“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,” the DOH said in a statement.

The three local cases were reported as residents of Pasay City whose samples were collected between Jan. 27 and Feb. 13, 2021.

Of these, two cases — a 61-year-old female and a 39-year-old male — are active cases being managed by Pasay City while the third local case, a 40-year-old male, has already recovered.

“On the other hand, the two ROFs 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 ROF,” the DOH said.

UK variant cases

Some 30 new cases of the UK variant were detected, with 20 cases detected among ROFs, three local cases, and seven still being verified.

“The 20 detected ROFs entered the country from the Middle East, Singapore, and the United States of America between Jan. 20 and Feb. 16, 2021. Thirteen of these are asymptomatic active cases, while seven have now recovered,” the DOH said.

The three local cases, it said, were from the Cordillera Administrative Region — with one case currently active and admitted to a hospital, one has recovered, and one is a reported fatality.

“The linkage of the three local cases to previously reported B.1.1.7 variant cases in the region is currently being investigated,” the DOH said.

To date, a total of 87 cases of the UK variant has been detected in the country.

‘Mutations of interest’

Based on the latest sequencing results, it said two samples from Region 7 were found to have both the N501Y and E484K mutations.

“Upon further verification, two cases from Region 7 previously reported to have these mutations have been delisted, thus the total remains at 34 cases,” the DOH said.

To prevent transmission of Covid-19 and the different variants of its virus, it emphasized the need to adhere to minimum public health standards despite the arrival of vaccines and its successful administration.

Local government units were also encouraged to be on heightened alert to monitor, detect, and report unusual spikes in cases in their area.

On Monday, several government officials and health workers were administered the CoronaVac vaccine manufactured by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech at the different hospitals and facilities in Metro Manila. (PNA)