DOH seeks WHO’s help in confirming community transmission of COVID-19 variants
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has sought the help of the World Health Organization (WHO) in determining if there is already community transmission of the COVID-19 variants in the country.
In an online press briefing on Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the DOH has yet to confirm the community transmission of the new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Wala po tayong confirmed community transmission as of yet. Kailangan pa natin i-further investigate. Humingi na po tayo ng tulong sa World Health Organization,” she said.
(We have no confirmed community transmission as of yet. We need to further investigate. We have already sought help from the World Health Organization.)
According to Vergeire, the DOH had a meeting with WHO officials in the country last Friday to analyze the COVID-19 situation in the country following the detection of the B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom and B.1.351 variant from South Africa.
She said further study is needed to provide information to determine the possibility of a community transmission of these variants in the country.
The WHO has laid down the following criteria for community transmission: appearance of large number of cases, occurrence of case clusters in multiple areas, and inability to link cases to known sources of infection.
The DOH has so far recorded a total of 118 cases of the more transmissible UK variant and 58 cases of the South African variant that is said to be more contagious and has a potential impact on vaccine efficacy.
Meanwhile, the DOH also reported 85 cases of mutations with “potential clinical significance,” or the N501Y mutation linked to increased transmissibility of the virus, and the E484K, which also has a potential impact on efficacy of vaccines.
For the UK variant, the DOH said 39 cases are active, 77 are recoveries, and two cases have resulted in deaths.
For the South African variant, 55 are active cases, and three are recoveries.
For the COVID-19 cases with mutations, 21 are active cases, 62 are recoveries, and the status of the remaining two are being verified, according to the health department.
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