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DOH denies there is new COVID-19 strain targeting 20-49 age group

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday debunked speculations that there is a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 among a particular age group in the Philippines.

"There is no new strain of the virus here in the Philippines. It is very dangerous and irresponsible to say that we now have a different strain here in the country," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online forum.

"The age group with the highest number of cases is 20-49 years old. It is not because there is a new strain that has been targeting them. It is because they are usually the ones going out of their houses to go to work and to do their errands," she added.

This clarification came in response to the circulating social media post claiming that the COVID-19 virus had mutated "into a more dangerous strain here in the Philippines," and that doctors are seeing heart attacks and strokes among the younger infected population. 

Recognizing that the DOH has previously announced the detection of the G614 variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Vergeire emphasized some important facts.

"It causes an increase in viral load [but] this does not automatically mean that it is more infectious and is more fatal," she said.

The DOH official also reminded the public that no age group is invincible or immune to COVID-19.

Further, Vergeire said the critical utilization rate in the National Capital Region has actually decreased.

"Naghi-hit tayo dati ng 86%, 81% in the National Capital Region. Ngayon, we are down to 68% as of September 2," she said.

"We have seen this decreasing trend in the past week. Still, di natin sinasabi na safe na tayo. We are still working closely with our hospitals so that they can still further expand their units para madagdagan ang allocated beds for COVID," she added.

Vergeire reminded the public to avoid relying on anecdotal COVID-19 stories they read online and instead look for evidenced-based information.

As of September 3, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country is 228,403—more than 65,000 are active, 159,475 have recovered and 3,688 died.—AOL, GMA News