Last Congo Ebola patient discharged with end of outbreak in sight

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020   •   558

The last patient being treated for Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday (March 3), the World Health Organization (WHO) said, bringing the 19-month-old outbreak closer than ever to an end.

Masika Semida’s release from hospital in the eastern city of Beni, feted by hospital staff who sang, danced and drummed, marks the first time there has been no active cases since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.

In that period, the virus has killed 2,264 people and infected nearly 1,200 more, making it the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history. Only the 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa was deadlier, killing more than 11,000.

Congo has now gone 14 days without any new confirmed cases. The outbreak can be declared over once 42 days have passed without a new case – equivalent to two cycles of 21 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Edwin Waita, Erikas Mwisi, Louisa Naks)

No longer variant of interest: WHO reclassifies P.3 variant first found in Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reclassified the coronavirus variant that was first detected in the Philippines.

On its website, the WHO has removed Theta or P.3 variant from the list of variants of interest (VOI) and designated it into “alerts for further monitoring” after cases of the said variant have declined.

“A previously designated Variant of Interest (VOI) or Variant of Concern (VOC) which has conclusively demonstrated to no longer pose a major added risk to global public health compared to other circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, can be reclassified,” the WHO said.

“This is undertaken through a critical expert assessment, in collaboration with Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution, of several criteria, such as the observed incidence/relative prevalence of variant detections among sequenced samples over time and between geographical locations, the presence / absence of other risk factors, and any ongoing impact on control measures,” it added.

The WHO, however, noted that former variants of interest or variants of concern may be monitored for an extended period, and will maintain their assigned WHO label until further notice.

“It is expected that our understanding of the impacts of these variants may fast evolve, and designated Alerts for Further Monitoring may be readily added/removed; therefore, WHO labels will not be assigned at this time,” it said.

Aside from Theta, former VOIs were Epsilon (B.1.427/B.1.429), and Zeta (P.2).

COVID-19 variants currently listed under variants of interest are Eta, Iota, Kappa and Lambda.

Eta was first documented in December 2020 in multiple countries, Iota first emerged in the United States in November 2020, Kappa in India around October, and Lambda in Peru in December.

Variants classified as VOC include Alpha (first reported in the United Kingdom), Beta (South Africa), Gamma (Brazil), and Delta (India).


PH yet to detect case of Lambda COVID-19 variant; stricter border control eyed – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to recommend stricter border control to  keep out the potentially more contagious Lambda COVID-19 variant.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Philippines has yet to detect any case of the Lambda variant but he stressed that stricter border control may be necessary to prevent the variant from entering the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Lambda variant (C.37) was first detected in Peru in December 2020. Its presence has so far been reported in more than 30 countries.

“Sa ngayon po, ito ay napag alaman kumakalat na sa bansang Peru at sa 35 iba pang Latin American countries. Sa ngayon po, batay sa submission ng ating Philippine Genome Center, wala pa, wala pa po tayong natukoy o na-diskubre na C.37 variant,” Duque said.

The Health Ministry of Malaysia earlier reported that the Lambda variant is feared to be “more infectious” than the Delta variant.

But the WHO said there is still not enough information to say that the Lambda mutation is more contagious than other identified COVID-19 variants.

The Lambda variant is still considered a variant of interest (VOI) as it shares similar attributes to the highly transmissible Delta variant that first emerged in India.

Variants under VOI are different from those classified as variants of concern (VOC).

According to the WHO, a variant is classified as a VOC if there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; or increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; or decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.

Variants classified as VOC include Alpha (first reported in the United Kingdom), Beta (South Africa), Gamma (Brazil), and Delta (India).

“Hindi pa siya kinikilala ng WHO bilang variant of concern. Sa kasalukuyan, siya po ay isang Variant of Interest… Kinakailngan po talaga bantayan natin ito dahil baka biglang maging Variant of Concern,” Duque said.

“So ano ang gagawin natin? Patuloy na paigtingin ang ating border control para makasiguro na hindi ito makalusot mula sa ating mga ROFs or OFWs,” he added.

The DOH also urged the public to continue observing health protocols and get vaccinated against coronavirus disease as it offers protection against severe forms of COVID-19.

No new ‘hybrid’ COVID variant in Vietnam — WHO

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 4, 2021

The “hybrid” coronavirus variant which Vietnam officials thought was a combination of strains first identified in the U.K. and India does not meet the definition of a new variant, the World Health Organization’s Vietnam representative told Nikkei newspaper Thursday.

“There is no new hybrid variant in Vietnam at this moment based on WHO definition,” Dr. Kidong Park, the global health body’s Vietnam representative, said in an online interview.

Dr. Park said the variant detected is a delta variant which was first detected in India and has appeared in other countries.

Park added that there is no alarming alert from WHO, as of the moment but still stressed the dangers of the delta variant since it is highly contagious.

The WHO representative clarified the matter after Vietnamese authorities expressed alarm and announced that a newly discovered variant could have contributed to the COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. AAC


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