DOH, UP-PGC, AND UP-NIH BIOSURVEILLANCE DETECT ADDITIONAL CASES OF COVID-19 VARIANTS

Press Release | 04 May 2021

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) today report the detection of additional 289 B.1.1.7 variant cases, 380 B.1.351 variant cases, and 9 P.3 variant cases from the 744 samples sequenced, based on the latest whole-genome sequencing report.

ON B.1.1.7 VARIANT CASES:

Of the additional 289 B.1.1.7 variant cases detected, 48 cases are Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs),  185 are local cases, and 56 cases are currently being verified if they are local or ROF cases. Based on the case line list, 3 cases remain active while 2 have died and 284 have recovered.

ON B.1.351 VARIANT CASES:

Of the additional 380 B.1.351 variant cases, 107 cases are ROFs, 196 are local cases, and 77 cases are currently being verified if they are local or ROF cases. Based on the case line list, 1 case is still active and 379 cases have been tagged as recovered.

ON P.3 VARIANT CASES:

Of the 9 additional P.3 variant cases, 3 are ROFs, 4 are local cases, and 2 cases are being verified if they are local or ROF cases. Based on the case line list, all 9 cases have recovered.

The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH reiterate that the P.3 variant is still NOT identified as a variant of concern (VOC) since current data is insufficient to determine whether the variant will have significant public health implications.

The DOH also clarifies that B.1.351 is the most common variant among the samples sequenced with assigned lineages, contrary to reports that it is now the dominant variant in the country. To date, UP-PGC has already sequenced a total of 7,167 samples, of which 5,917 were assigned lineages. Among the samples with assigned lineages, the B.1.351 composed 18.2%, the B.1.1.7 composed 16.0%, the P.3 composed 2.7%, while the P.1 variant composed 0.03%.

The DOH further boosts its efforts to increase vaccination coverage among the priority population groups, to meet the goal of the National Vaccination Program to protect the vulnerable and prevent COVID-19 related deaths. As the national government simultaneously vaccinates priority population groups A1, A2, and A3, those belonging to these groups are urged to have themselves vaccinated for additional protection against COVID-19.

To complement the intensified vaccination activities, the DOH calls the public to strictly and consistently  adhere to the minimum public health standards to minimize the risk of exposure and infection. Active contact tracing and swift case detection, completion of isolation/quarantine period, and continued implementation of the PDITR strategies and other localized interventions by the local government units are likewise necessary to slow down the transmission rate and bring down the number of COVID-19 cases.