PH records more cases of Delta coronavirus variant

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 21) — The Department of Health on Monday reported four additional cases of the Delta (B.1.167.2) coronavirus variant, bringing the total to 17 cases.

The variant, first identified in India in February, is believed to be 60% more contagious than the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant first detected in the United Kingdom. Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said a person carrying the Delta variant can infect eight other individuals and they may stay longer in the hospital.

Three of the four additional Delta variant cases are Filipino seafarers from MV Eastern Hope, the DOH said. Upon detection of the virus, they were repatriated from South Korea to the Philippines on June 3. Two of them have recovered and have been discharged, while one is still admitted in a Metro Manila hospital.

The fourth case is a returning overseas Filipino who arrived from Saudi Arabia on May 24. The person has been tagged recovered on June 10, DOH added.

The ban on travelers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates is in place until June 30 to prevent the entry of the Delta variant.

"Ang ating Pangulo mismo ang talagang very cautious siya, ayaw niyang makapasok ang Delta variant dito sa ating bansa dahil gusto niyang ma-preserve pa rin ang ating healthcare system at ayaw niyang maapektuhan ang ating bansa with this variant," Vergeire said in a media briefing.

[Translation: Our President is very cautious. He doesn't want the Delta variant to enter our country. He doesn't want our country to be affected and he wants us to preserve our healthcare system.]

The health official added there is no need to revise current border controls and minimum public health standards, but their enforcement should be strengthened to prevent the spread of the more infectious variant. Vergeire added that studies show the Delta variant lessens the protection given by COVID-19 vaccines, but they can still prevent hospitalization and death.

Additional cases of other variants of concerns were also recorded during the latest genome sequencing conducted by the Philippine Genome Center. There were 14 more cases of the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant cases, now with a total of 1,085, while 21 additional Beta (B.1.351) variant cases, bringing the total to 1,267.

Meanwhile, one more case of the P.3 variant, which was first detected in the Philippines in March. This variant is not yet labelled by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern.