PH detects first P.1 variant in Pinoy traveler from Brazil

MANILA – The Philippines has detected its first case of P.1 variant, a potentially more transmissible coronavirus that emerged in Brazil, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Saturday.

The DOH said a returning overseas Filipino (ROF) from Western Visayas was found positive for the variant after the sequencing of 752 samples by the Philippine Genome Center.

“The one case found with the P.1 variant is a ROF from Brazil. Additional information about the case is currently being investigated,” it said in a statement.

The P.1 variant was first detected in Japan by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) among four travelers from Brazil.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is evidence to suggest that transmissibility and the ability of antibodies generated through a previous infection are affected by some mutations of P.1.

‘UK, South Africa variants’

The DOH also confirmed 59 new cases positive for the B.1.1.7, or the variant first reported in the United Kingdom (UK), as well as 32 new cases of B.1.351, or the variant first reported in South Africa.

Of the additional UK variant cases, 30 are locals, 18 are ROFs, while 11 are currently being verified, raising the total in the country to 177.

The DOH said 16 of the local cases are from the Cordillera region, 10 from Metro Manila, two from Central Luzon, and two from Calabarzon.

Meanwhile, 19 of the patients infected with the South Africa variant are local cases from Metro Manila, one from Cagayan Valley, one from Northern Mindanao, and a ROF.

The location of the remaining 10 is still being verified by the health department.

The number of South Africa variant cases in the Philippines now stands at 90.

The DOH reiterated that “correct and consistent adherence” to health and safety protocols would prevent the transmission of these emerging variants.

It “strongly urged” all local government units to facilitate and implement necessary interventions to mitigate the continued increase in the number of cases. (PNA)

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