The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said more cases of the P.3, UK, and South Africa variants of COVID-19 have been detected.
Six cases were found to have the P.3 variant, 46 cases with the UK variant (B.1.1.7), and 62 cases with the South Africa variant (B.1.351), the DOH said.
The Health department said the additional new variant cases were detected from the eleventh batch of specimens subjected to whole genome sequencing by the DOH, University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH).
“These additional cases were among the 150 samples composed mostly of samples from National Capital Region laboratories. Information of cases with these variants are being investigated and verified,” the DOH said.
On the new P.3 variant cases — which health authorities refuse to call as “Philippine variant” — four are local cases and two are being verified if they are local cases or returning overseas Filipinos.
The Health department is veering away from the practice of naming coronavirus variants after the countries where they were first detected, saying this causes undue stigma against certain populations.
The DOH said the four new local P.3 cases are from the NCR. It noted that all of six new cases are currently active.
Health authorities also reiterated that, at present, the P.3 variant is still not identified as a variant of concern as current available data are insufficient to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications.
Over the last weekend, the DOH said there were a total of 98 P.3 variant cases in the country.
The additional six new P.3 cases bring the running total to 104.
The DOH has confirmed that the P.3 variant, first detected in Central Visayas, is unique to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, of the additional 46 B.1.1.7 (UK) variant cases, 36 are local cases from the NCR, two are returning overseas Filipinos, and eight cases are currently being verified if they are local or returning overseas Filipino cases.
“This brings the total number of B.1.1.7 cases in the country to 223. As to status, the case database shows that 45 cases are still active and one is already recovered,” the DOH said.
The two returning overseas Filipinos detected with B.1.1.7 variant indicated Cagayan Valley and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as their addresses.
On the other hand, of the 62 new B.1.351 variant cases, 43 are local cases and 19 are being verified if they are local or returning overseas Filipinos.
“This brings the total number of B.1.351 cases in the country to 152,” the DOH said.
Of the 43 local cases, 41 are from NCR and two are from CALABARZON.
“Based on the case line list, 60 cases are still active and two have recovered,” the Health department said.
The DOH urged the public to stay at home unless extremely necessary and avoid closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings.
“With the upcoming Holy Week, the DOH encourages everyone to avoid large congregations and practice religious activities at home,” it said.
“Strict adherence to the minimum public health standards in all private and public settings is strongly emphasized to minimize COVID-19 transmission and avoid further mutations,” it added. —KG, GMA News