MORE than 600 new cases of Covid-19 variants were detected, the biggest rise since the country started genomic sequencing for the virus, the Department of Health (DoH) said on Sunday.
Of the 752 sequenced Covid samples, 642 are variants, according to the Philippine Genome Center’s (PGC)’s latest sequencing.
The PGC said it found 266 samples of the United Kingdom variant (B117); 351 of the South African variant (B1.351); and 25 of the P3, the variant first found in the Philippines.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire attributed the uptick in variant cases to the fact most of the samples were from Metro Manila and the Southern Tagalog region, where variants of concern (VoC) have long been detected.
“The largest samples we collected came from the National Capital Region and Calabarzon,” Vergeire told The Manila Times, referring to the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
“Due to this, we are seeing a number of VoCs being detected by our biosurveillance,” she added.
Of the 266 cases of the UK variant, 54 are active, 204 have recovered and eight died. Vergeire said 188 of the cases are local patients, 11 are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), while 67 are being verified.
Of the 351 cases of South African variant, 54 are active, 293 have recovered and 4 have died. Most are local cases, at 263, while 15 are ROFs. The rest are being verified.
Only one of the P3 cases is active, and the rest have recovered. Twenty-one are local cases; two are returning Filipinos and two are still for verification.
The DoH reiterated P3 has not been identified as a variant of concern.
“The P3 variant is still not identified as a variant of concern since current data is insufficient to determine whether the variant will have significant public health implications,” the department said in a statement.
There are now a total of 658 cases of the UK variant; 695 cases of South African variant; and 148 cases of P3. Two cases of P1, which was first detected in Brazil, were recorded in previous batches.
The DoH reported on Sunday 72,607 Covid patients have recovered, the highest recovery figure since the pandemic began in the country. Recoveries now total 779,084.
The number of new cases remained at 10,098, bringing the total caseload to 936,133.
Octa Research predicts the country will reach the grim milestone of 1 million Covid cases before the end of the month.
Of the total infections, only 141,089 are tagged as active cases. Cases that are either mild or with no symptoms at all are at 98.4 percent.
“We reiterate our faithful adherence to the minimum public health standard is effective to curb the transmission of Covid-19,” Vergeire said.
Deaths from the virus totaled 15,960.
The Philippines is second in new coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia, which has 1,599,763 cases, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University new coronavirus tracker update.
Global new coronavirus cases reached 140.7 million which includes three million deaths.