PH detects more cases of South Africa, UK variants

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 5) — The Department of Health said it has detected more cases of the COVID-19 variants first discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Health Secretary Francsico Duque III revealed during a briefing in Davao City on Friday that the DOH has discovered 52 additional cases of the B.1.351 variant, or the South Africa variant, and another 31 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant or the UK variant.

These bring total count of the South Africa variant to 58, and 118 for the UK variant.

In a statement, the department said samples came from Metro Manila, Central Visayas, and returning overseas Filipinos.

Of the South Africa variant cases, 41 are from the capital region, while 11 are still being verified if they are local cases or returning Filipinos, the Health department said. One patient has already recovered while 51 are still active cases, it added.

For the UK variant, 28 of the new cases are from Metro Manila, while three cases are still being verified. Latest detections are all active, the DOH said.

Duque said the technical working group on COVID-19 variants will meet with local chief executives of Metro Manila on Friday afternoon to discuss the increasing cases of the South Africa variant.

Earlier, the department said it is closely monitoring “fast containment” of the B.1.351 variant, which is considered to be more transmissible and appears to make some vaccines, like AstraZeneca, less effective.

The department also announced 42 more cases “with mutations of potential clinical significance” from the 9th batch of 350 samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center. These were found to have the N501Y and E484K mutations, it said.

These additional infections bring the tally to 76.

Of these cases, 34 are from Central Visayas, six from Metro Manila, and two still being verified. All were tagged as active cases, except for 22 patients from the Visayas who recovered.

“The DOH and its concerned Centers for Health Development is coordinating with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Local Government Units in NCR and Region 7 to institute measures to contain further transmission of these variants and mutations,” the agency said.