MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday detected 10 more cases of the B.1.617 SARS-CoV-2 variant that originated in India, bringing the total in the Philippines to 12.
Of these 10 cases, one is a seafarer who came from Belgium while the other nine are crew members of MV Athens Bridge.
The DOH said the seafarer disembarked in Belgium and flew back to Manila via the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He arrived in the Philippines on a flight last April 24, 2021 and completed his isolation period last May 13, 2021.
The other nine cases, on the other hand, were from the 12 coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)-positive Filipino crew of MV Athens Bridge. Four of them are still admitted at a hospital in Manila and are currently in stable condition while the other five are in an isolation facility.
"Samples of the other three RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction)-positive crew members were not eligible for sequencing. Likewise, these three crew members remain in an isolation facility," the DOH said.
The 10 new cases were in addition to the two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Oman and UAE who were found positive for the B.1.617 variant.
According to DOH, the two OFWs' close contacts already completed the prescribed 14-day quarantine and have been discharged from their quarantine facility.
"Of the three initially reported Covid-19 positive cases that are close contacts of the 2nd case in the plane, one was sent for sequencing but was not detected to harbor a variant of concern (VOC)," it said.
The DOH also detected 13 more B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) variant cases, seven B.1.351 (South Africa) variant cases, and one P.3 (Philippines) variant case from the 37 samples sequenced last May 14, 2021.
The latest sequencing run included the samples from the crew members of the MV Athens Bridge, returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) with relevant travel history, and deceased severe or critical Covid-19 cases
Of the additional B.1.1.7 variant cases, three are ROFs and 10 are local cases. Based on the case line list, one has died while 12 have been tagged as recovered.
Meanwhile, two of the seven B.1.351 variant cases are ROFs, two are local cases, and three are currently being verified if they are local or ROF cases.
Two of the cases are still undergoing treatment, four have recovered, while one has died.
On the additional P.3 variant case, the DOH said the patient was a local case with an address in Region IX and has died last February 28, 2021.
The P.3 variant is not identified as a VOC but is currently under investigation to determine its public health implication.
"While the government is implementing stricter border control measures, the DOH urges the public to strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards and immediately get vaccinated when it’s their turn. By following these measures, infection and further mutation of Covid-19 can be prevented," the DOH said.
It stressed that a low transmission rate means fewer chances for the virus to mutate. (PNA)