Seventeen cases of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant that was first reported in India have been detected in the Philippines so far, according to data from the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday.
In its latest update on the coronavirus variant cases detected by the Philippine Genome Center and the University of the Philippines' National Institute of Health, the DOH said four more Delta (B.1.617.2) variant cases have been added to the previous 13.
The DOH said three of the four additional cases are Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROF) from the MV Eastern Hope, a ship currently docked in South Korea.
"Upon detection of the PCR-positive Filipino crew in South Korea, they were repatriated back to the Philippines on June 3, 2021," the DOH said.
Two cases have completed the 10-day isolation after arrival in the country and were discharged upon certification of recovery, while one is still admitted in a hospital in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, the fourth case is a ROF who arrived from Saudi Arabia on May 24, 2021, has completed the mandated isolation, and was tagged as recovered on June 10, 2021, the DOH said.
The fourth case is already discharged from the isolation facility and is now under strict home quarantine, it added.
Meanwhile, in the same press statement, the DOH also announced the detection of 14 Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant cases; 21 Beta (B.1.351) variant cases; and one Theta (P.3, Philippines) variant.
"The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH assure the public that biosurveillance activities for the detection of COVID-19 variants shall continue amidst the increase in cases in Visayas and Mindanao," the DOH said.
According to DOH, the additional 14 Alpha variant cases, 12 are local cases while two are being verified as to whether local or ROF cases.
Based on the DOH's case line list, two cases have died and 12 cases have been tagged as recovered.
"The Alpha variant cases now total 1,085," the DOH said.
The Alpha variant was first detected in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, of the additional 21 Beta variant cases detected, 20 are local cases while one case is being verified as to whether local or ROF case.
Based on the case line list, 20 cases have been tagged as recovered and one case is currently active. The total Beta variant cases are now 1,267.
The Beta variant was first detected in South Africa.
Lastly, the DOH said the additional Theta variant case is currently being verified as to whether local or ROF case. The case has already been tagged as recovered.
"Currently, the Theta variant is not identified as a variant of concern (VOC) since more data is needed to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications," the DOH said.
Though the DOH has yet to report community transmission, the Metro Manila Council, which is composed of Metro Manila mayors, is asking for 5,000 more contact tracers in case the Delta variant enters the National Capital Region.
According to a report on "24 Oras Weekend" on Sunday, the MMC is prioritizing aggressive contact tracing and testing to prevent the further spread of the virus.
"Importante maalalayan namin ang kaso sa mga lugar namin. Makita namin kaunting increase, galaw kaagad kami," Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos said.
The DOH, for its part, said reagents for whole genome sequencing for the rest of the year have already been procured. The reagents are expected to arrive at the UP-PGC this week.
"These reagents will allow the DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH to sequence samples of COVID-19 cases regularly until the end of the year, ensuring that the government will have essential information in mitigating the spread of COVID-19."
The procurement was made possible through a P180-million grant by the DOH to the UP-PGC last May. —KBK, GMA News