‘3 virus variants spreading’ – Manila Standard

The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday said experts have detected 266 more cases of the UK, 351 of the South African, and 25 Philippine COVID-19 variants.

The University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center (UP-PGC) and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) detected the latest cases from 752 samples sequenced nationwide.

Of the 266 UK (B.1.1.7) variant infections, 11 are returning Filipinos who were living abroad, 188 are local cases, and 67 are still for verification.

The DOH said the new cases brought the total number of B.1.1.7 variant infections to 658. Of the total, eight have already died, 204 have recovered and 54 are still active.

Studies show that this variant has a higher reproduction rate than other variants.

Of the new South African (B.1.351) variant cases, 15 are returning overseas Filipinos, 263 are local cases, and 73 are under further validation. This raised the total cases of the South African variant to 695, which includes 293 recoveries and four deaths.

A previous study found that this South African variant reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine created by AstraZeneca drug maker, which is now called Vaxzevria.

Of the additional 25 Philippine (P.3) variant infections, which is not a “variant of concern,” two are returning overseas Filipinos, 21 are local cases while two are still unclassified.

This increased the total tally of P.3 variant cases in the country to 148, with one active case and 24 recoveries.

The DOH said they are still determining whether the P.3 variant has “significant implications on public health.”

Meanwhile, the P.1 variant cases, which was first detected in Brazil, remained at two.

The Philippines logged 10,098 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total to 936,133 infections, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.

The DOH reported 150 new fatalities, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 15,960, which is 1.7 percent of the total.

The DOH also reported that 72,607 persons recently recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 779,084, which is 83.2 percent of the total.

Active cases remained at 141,089, which is 15.1 percent of the total. Of the active cases, 96.7 percent were mild; 1.7 percent were asymptomatic; 0.5 percent were critical; 0.7 percent were severe; and 0.43 percent were moderate.

The DOH also reported, nationwide, 68 percent of the ICU beds were in use; 49 percent of the isolation beds were in use; 56 percent of the ward beds were in use; 47 percent of the ventilators were in use.

In Metro Manila, 84 percent of the ICU beds were in use; 63 percent of the isolation beds were in use; 72 percent of the ward beds were in use; and 63 percent of the ventilators were in use.

As of April 13, the Philippines administered only over 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses after more than a month.

The country targets 70 million by the end of the year, which the Health department said is needed to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus.

The Philippines College of Physicians (PCP) on Sunday said most emergency rooms in pandemic-hit areas are still full as the number of new COVID-19 cases remains high in Metro Manila.

Dr. Maricar Limpin, PCP vice president, said the government must enforce long-term programs such as digitalizing its contact-tracing, testing all people exposed to virus patients, and improving its referral of COVID-19 cases.

“We see a lot of patients become severe or critical. It’s frustrating for us because by the time we see them, they’re in the worst condition already,” Limpin said in Filipino on ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.

Limpin said health workers may only feel the impact of the stricter community quarantines in two to three weeks.

“We just push through it. Our emergency department is really full. Not just full, it’s at about 200-percent capacity,”she said.

Limpin advised local governments to centralize their data as contact-tracing using filled-up forms has been ineffective.

“Let’s improve our contact-tracing, and they should agree on one thing, for example, if it’s QR code. Let’s not do manual contact tracing because nothing happens. Let’s throw it away because we know it’s not effective,” Limpin said.

She urged local government officials to bring COVID-19 assistance to residents instead of the other way around.

“I think there should be a better way of distributing this aid. I think government employees can go to the people instead of residents going to them,” Limpin said.

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