DOH confirms 18 new cases of Covid-19 variant, 3 mutations
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday confirmed that there were 18 new cases of the Covid-19 variant B.1.1.7 that originated from the United Kingdom, as well as three more cases of mutations, bringing the total to 62 and 34, respectively.
The DOH said that the latest cases were part of the seventh batch of 757 samples sequenced by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) last Feb. 18.
Of the new cases, 13 are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) who entered the country between Jan. 3 to 27.
These cases have been tagged as recovered, and the DOH is currently investigating compliance to isolation protocols and the contact tracing done for the ROFs.
There were three other Covid-19 variant cases were from the Cordillera Administrative Region. Two of them are 12-year-old boys who are connected to the original cluster from Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province.
The third case, a 41-year-old female, is connected to the La Trinidad cluster, according to the DOH.
“All three cases are now tagged as recovered and all close contacts have completed quarantine following immediate contact tracing and isolation to swiftly contain transmission among the Bontoc and La Trinidad cluster,” the DOH said.
The DOH also said that two cases are currently being verified if these are local cases or ROFs.
Meanwhile, the health department also reported an additional sample from Central Visayas belonging to the sixth genome sequencing batch was found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.
Such mutations were also detected in two among the 80 Region 7 samples sequenced in the seventh batch.
“The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH (University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health) are preparing to submit these new findings to the World Health Organization and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) to aid in the ongoing global effort to track and study new and emerging genomic changes in the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which vaccine manufacturers may use to to recalibrate vaccines and ensure efficacy against Covid-19,” the DOH said.
Earlier, the DOH confirmed that the 31 cases of Covid-19 in Central Visayas were detected to have “mutations of concern”, adding that its available data was “insufficient to conclude” that these mutations would have significant implications on public health.
UP-PGC executive director Dr. Cynthia Saloma said that the E484K mutation is also found in the South African variant while the N501Y is in the UK variant.
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