All patients with Covid-19 ‘mutations of concern’ have recovered — DOH, PGC
MANILA, Philippines — All Covid-19 patients in Central Visayas with the two detected SARS-CoV-2 mutations of concern, only exhibited mild symptoms of the coronavirus disease and have been cleared from quarantine, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) said.
“All the cases in Central Visayas with the two mutations of concern, these are the E484K and N501Y, exhibited only mild symptoms and have been cleared from their quarantine,” PGC executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma said in an online press briefing.
DOH Central Visayas director Jaime Bernadas added that all the cases were mild and that “two were even asymptomatic.”
“All of these cases, I referred that to our data, were mild and two were even asymptomatic. Of the cases that were given us—we reviewed the data of these cases—I presumed everyone of them is already out in their homes and communities,” he said.
According to Saloma, the PGC received 70 samples from Central Visayas on February 6, of which 59 samples met the cycle threshold (CT) value criteria for genome sequencing.
She said that of the 59 samples sequenced, 50 were assigned lineages. Of the 50, 31 samples were “initially identified to contain two mutations of concern to the global community: E484K and N501Y.”
On Thursday, DOH-Region 7 said the two mutations of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, were detected in samples from Cebu.
Saloma said health authorities will continue investigating the mutations through enhanced genomic biosurveillance of surrounding areas in Cebu as well as in other regions in the country.
The DOH earlier said that currently available data are still insufficient to conclude that the mutations of concern will have significant public health implications.
“Sa kasalukuyan hindi pa sapat ang datos upang matukoy ng ating mga eksperto kung ano nga ba ang implikasyon ng dalawang mutations na ito sa virus,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also said in the briefing.
(At present, the data is not yet sufficient for our experts to determine the implications of these two mutations on the virus.)
The health agency has recently flagged Central Visayas as one of the regions in the country where rising Covid-19 cases were recorded in the previous weeks.
But according to Duque, there could be other factors that contributed to the increase of cases in the region, including the mobility of people especially as Central Visayas is under modified general community quarantine or the most lenient quarantine being enforced in the country.
Asked if the DOH-Region 7 will recommend a stricter quarantine level for Central Visayas, Bernadas said they have already requested to be given two weeks for evaluation of health measures that should be strengthened following the detection of the mutations.
“We have to intensify our containment measures, intensify case finding, and we have to get ready for our health capacities. We have to expand our capacities and we have to intensify containment as far as going down to household containment, purok containment or even barangay containment if warranted,” he said.
While it is the nature of viruses to mutate, health authorities have been reiterating that it is important to keep a low number of Covid-19 cases to decrease the possibility of more coronavirus mutations, since there would be fewer hosts of the virus.
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