Press Release | 20 March 2021

Among the eleventh batch of specimens subjected to Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), the Department of Health (DOH), the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) have detected 46 additional B.1.1.7 variant cases, 62 additional B.1.351 variant cases, and six (6) additional P.3 variant cases. These additional cases were among the 150 samples composed mostly of samples from National Capital Region laboratories. Information of cases with these variants are being investigated and verified.

ON B.1.1.7 Variant CASES:

Of the additional 46 B.1.1.7 variant cases, 36 are local cases from the National Capital Region, two (2) are ROFs, and eight (8) cases are currently being verified if they are local or Returning Overseas Filipino (ROF) cases. This brings the total number of B.1.1.7 cases in the country to 223. As to status, case database shows that 45 cases are still active and 1 is already recovered.

The two (2) ROFs detected have the following regions as their indicated addresses - Cagayan Valley and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

ON B.1.351 Variant CASES:

Of the 62 B.1.351 variant cases, 43 are local cases and 19 are being verified if they are local or ROF cases. This brings the total number of B.1.351 cases in the country to 152. Of the 43 local cases, 41 are from NCR and two (2) are from CALABARZON. Based on the case line list, 60 cases are still active and two (2) have recovered.

ON P.3 Variant CASES:

Of the six (6) additional cases, four (4) are local cases and two (2) are being verified if they are local cases or ROFs. The four (4) local cases are from NCR. All six (6) cases are currently active.

The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH emphasize that at present, the P.3 variant is still NOT identified as a variant of concern as current available data are insufficient to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications.

The DOH urges the public to stay at home unless extremely necessary and remember to avoid the three C’s (Closed spaces, Crowded places, and Close contact settings). With the upcoming Holy Week, the DOH encourages everyone to avoid large congregations and practice religious activities at home. Strict adherence to the minimum public health standards in all private and public settings is strongly emphasized to minimize COVID-19 transmission and avoid further mutations.