Philippines reports COVID-19 variant detected in India

MANILA (XINHUA) – The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) confirmed yesterday its first two cases of the new COVID-19 variant first detected in India.

Alethea De Guzman of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau said the B.1.617 variant was detected from samples taken from two seafarers who arrived in the country from Oman on April 10 and the United Arab Emirates on April 19.

De Guzman said the two, who had no travel history from India, have already recovered. She added that the two were immediately quarantined upon arrival, so they did not have any close contacts.

The DOH also reported yesterday 4,734 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 1,113,547.

The death toll climbed to 18,620 after 59 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 11 million people since the outbreak in January 2020.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that the Philippines is gaining momentum in the fight against the COVID-19 as the country is put at low risk with the drop in the two-week growth rate of COVID-19 infections.

Despite the overall improving condition, Duque said there is no room for complacency because there are still areas with positive two-week growth rates, adding that Metro Manila and four other regions still have a high average daily infection rate.