The World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines on Tuesday said the highly contagious Delta variant has become the dominant coronavirus variant in the country.
“The information we have clearly shows that now, already, the Delta variant has emerged as the dominant variant,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Philippines country representative, told a news conference.
"With this kind of transmission, with these kinds of numbers, we are in community transmission of the Delta variant,” he added.
Community transmission means there is a clustering of cases and there are no longer links among infected individuals.
Abeyasinghe said nearly 70% of samples that were subjected to genome sequencing in the latest run tested positive for the Delta variant.
In a separate briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the percentage of samples found to have the Delta variant rose from 6% in June to 56% in August.
“This coincides with the start of a steeper rise in the number of cases in July, similar to what we saw previously at the start of our April peak in cases with the spread of the Alpha and Beta variants,” she noted.
Vergeire said the Delta variant has been detected in all 17 regions across the country, except for the Bangsamoro region.
Meanwhile, Abeyasinghe said the WHO has yet to find evidence proving that the Delta variant spreads through airborne transmission.
“The evidence we have is that the Delta variant, although more transmissible, is still largely transmitted in aerosols. It's not an airborne transmission,” he said.
The WHO official also said wearing two face masks will not guarantee protection from the Delta variant, especially when the masks are not worn properly.
“You don't need double masking… what you need is diligence in following the minimum public health standards,” he stressed.
The Philippines has so far recorded 1,789 Delta cases, only 38 of which were active as of August 27. —KBK, GMA News