DOH reports new cases of COVID-19 variants first detected in UK, South Africa

Marje Pelayo   •   March 5, 2021   •   465

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday (March 5) reported 52 cases of the COVID-19 variant first seen in South Africa known as B.1.351 variant.

This was confirmed from the sequencing conducted by the DOH in cooperation with UP-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC), and the UP-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH).

Of the 52 cases who tested positive for the B.1.351 variant, 41 have addresses in the National Capital Region (NCR), while 11 cases are being verified whether they are local cases or returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs). 

One case from NCR has recovered, while the remaining 51 cases are currently tagged as active and are being managed.

Meanwhile, 31 new cases of the COVID-19 UK variant (B.1.17) were also detected. 

According to the DOH, 28 of the B.1.1.7 cases are from the NCR, while three cases are being verified if they are local cases or returning overseas Filipinos.

All 31 are active cases, the DOH said. 

Moreover, of 42 cases with mutations of potential clinical significance were also detected, 34 are from Region 7, six from the NCR, and two cases are being verified if they are local cases or ROFs. 

Twenty-two of the 34 cases from Region 7 are now recovered. 

Meanwhile, the remaining 12 Region 7 cases, all 6 NCR cases, and both cases being verified, are tagged as active cases.

Currently, the DOH and its concerned Centers for Health Development is coordinating with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Local Government Units (LGUs) in NCR and Region 7 to institute measures to contain further transmission of these variants and mutations. 

Health authorities are reminding the public of their individual responsibilities to follow the minimum public health standards at all times and in all settings. 

This includes the conscious effort of properly wearing a mask and face shield, and observing physical distancing.

Quick substitution list on COVID-19 jabs should still be healthcare workers – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   March 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) maintained that based on the COVID-19 prioritization framework protocol, healthcare workers must be the top priority.

In the event that a healthcare worker withdraws his or her slot, anyone who should take his or her COVID vaccine must still be a healthcare worker and not from other sectors, may it be a senior citizen or even a local official or just any personality.

The DOH clarified this after incidents of vaccination of personalities who are not on the priority list, specifically in Parañaque City.

“Iyong unang guidelines ng DOH sa Astrazeneca, ire-reserve mo yung second jab. Ire-reserve mo. Pero naglabas sila ng panibagong guidelines na yung second jab, pwede nating gamitin as first jab. So, nagkaroon tayo ng extra yon, kaya mayroon tayong extra sa health worker na nagamit natin sa Senior Citizen,” Mayor Edwin Olivarez of Parañaque City argued after they vaccinated some senior citizens in his area.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said hospitals and local government units have been asked long before the vaccination of a quick substitution list.

Thus, they cannot argue that to avoid wastage of vaccines, they can give them to just anyone outside the priority sector.

“Kung sino ang malalapit sa inyo na mga private hospitals maybe or mga private clinics isama niyo na diyan sa inyong pagbabakuna. Never did we say that we are going to the next sector. Diyan po sa (Quick substitution list) QSL sector natin nalalagay din dyan that everybody will be informed and instructed when we are going to shift and go to the next sector already,” Vergeire said.

“So maliwang iyan nasa A Sector tayo ngayon. Your Quick Substitution List should include all healthcare workers and frontliners who are directly caring for our COVID-19 patients,” she added.

Vergeire explained that though actor Mark Anthony Fernandez’s condition is something that can be considered to have comorbidity, still he is not part of the priority list.

“Hindi pa po tayo nandoon sa level ng sector na iyong para bigyan sila ng bakunang ito. Pangalawa, nagbigay na po ng abiso ang WHO na sana ang AstraZeneca vaccines ay maibigay natin sa healthcare workers para hindi ma- compromise ang ating succeeding supplies manggagaling sa COVAX,” Vergeire noted.

The DOH, also warned against COVID-19 vaccines that are being sold in the black or online market as they can be counterfeit.

“Kapag may nagbebenta sa inyo ng mga bakuna alalahannin po ninyo na wala pang binibigyan ng authority para makapagbenta commercially,” Vergeire said.

“Ibig sabihin iyang bakunang iyan maybe galing sa backdoor, walang registration po iyan ng FDA or authority.. Malamang iyan po ay fake and might cause harm than benefit you are expecting,” she added.

Meanwhile, the DOH explained that AstraZeneca vaccines that were returned from Bicol wouldn’t be wasted.

The DOH official explained that after tests by World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Representatives on the returned vials, it was found out that they can still be used.

“Ito pong isang box ng bakuna na ito, na check na natin at may initial information and recommendation na itutuloy ang pagbabakuna dahill potent pa ang vaccines,” Vergeire said.

“We will have to complete the reports that’s why we have a composite team to check it again later this afternoon,” she concluded.MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

PH detects 114 more cases of COVID-19 variants

UNTV News   •   March 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday reported the detection 114 additional cases of various COVID-19 variants.

In a statement, the DOH said it has discovered 46 new cases with the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant); 62 additional B.1.351 variant (South Africa) cases, and six more P.3 variant cases.

These new 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.

Of the 46 UK variant cases, 36 are from the National Capital Region, two (2) are Returning Overseas Filipino (ROFs), and eight (8) cases are currently being verified if they are local or ROF cases.  The country’s tally for the B.1.1.7 variant is now at 223.

Among 62 South African variant cases, 43 are local cases of which 41 from NCR and two (2) are from CALABARZON. The remaining 19 are being verified if they are local or ROF cases.

Of the six (6) additional P.3 variant cases, four (4) are local cases and two (2) are being verified if they are local cases or ROFs. The four (4) local cases are from NCR. All six (6) cases are currently active.

The DOH, UP-PGC, and UP-NIH emphasize 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.

The health department urges the public not to leave their homes unless extremely necessary and to avoid the closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings to minimize COVID-19 transmission and avoid further mutations.

DOH reports 5,290 new COVID-19 cases in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   March 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday reported that the country’s COVID-19 case tally is now at 640,984 after 5,290 newly-confirmed cases were added to the list.

The DOH also reported 439 new recoveries and 21 new deaths.

Of the overall number of positive cases in the country, the DOH said 10.4% (66,567) are active COVID-19 cases; 87.6% (561,530) have recovered; and only 2.01% (12,887) succumbed to the disease.

For further information of the COVID-19 tally in the Philippines, visit DOH’s COVID-19 tracker at www.doh.gov.ph/covid19tracker.

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