DOH finds 6 cases of South African variant, 30 add’l UK variant cases

File photo: Department of Health (Eagle News Service)


(Eagle News) – The Department of Health (DOH) said that six cases of the South African variant or B.1.351, have been found in the country, while 30 more cases of B.1.1.7 variant or the so-called UK variant have been also recently detected.

With the additional 30 cases of the UK variant, the number of UK variant cases in the country have now reached 87.

Aside from this, “two additional cases with mutations of interest” were also found in the latest batch of samples submitted to the Philippine Genome Center.

Both the UK variant and the South African variant are reported to be more infectious than the original strain of the COVID-19 virus.  But the South African variant is particularly concerning to health officials and researchers worldwide. This is because not only is it more infectious — up to 50 percent more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain – it is also a challenge for vaccine developers since current vaccines could not guarantee that they are effective against this particular variant.

“To date, there are already 48 countries with reported cases of the B.1.351 variant. While there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease, the pattern of mutations within this variant suggests higher transmissibility and may have an impact on vaccine efficacy,” the DOH said in a statement.

“Of the six (6) South African variant cases, three (3) are local cases, two (2) are returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs), and one (1) case is still being verified as to location,” it said.

The DOH said that the three local South African variant cases were all residents of Pasay City. Their samples were collected between January 27 and February 13, 2021.

“Two of the local cases, a 61-year-old female and a 39-year-old male, are active cases being managed by Pasay City. The third local case, a 40-year-old male, has already recovered,” the DOH statement said.

It said that the two other South African variant cases, the two returning overseas Filipinos, arrived in the country from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Their status is currently being verified. Moreover, the DOH is also currently verifying if the sixth case is a local case or an ROF.

-More UK variant cases-

The DOH also gave additional data on the 30 additional UK cases, or the B.1.1.7 variant. It said 20 cases are ROFs, three are local cases, and seven are currently being verified if these are local cases or Returning Overseas Filipinos.

“The twenty (20) detected ROFs entered the country from the Middle East, Singapore, and the United States of America between January 20 and February 16, 2021. Thirteen (13) of these are asymptomatic active cases, while seven (7) have now recovered,” it said.

“On the other hand, the three (3) local B.1.1.7 variant cases are from the Cordillera Administrative Region. One case is currently active and is admitted to a hospital, one has recovered, and one is a reported fatality. The linkage of the three local cases to previously reported B.1.1.7 variant cases in the region is currently being investigated,” the DOH statement said.

-Two more cases of “variants of concern”-

The DOH also said that the two addition samples from Central Visayas region “were found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.”

This was based on the latest sequencing results from the PGC.

“The DOH also reports that upon further verification, two (2) cases from Region 7 previously reported to have these mutations have been delisted, thus the total remains at 34 cases,” the DOH said.

(Eagle News Service)