DOH admits Delta cases could be higher than reported

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — The Department of Health acknowledged Monday the "possibility" that the Philippines has more undetected cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant as the government has yet to step up genome sequencing efforts.

"The possibility is always there," Health sec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing when asked if there are likely undetected cases of the Delta variant.

"As we said, we do purposive sampling kung saan nagsa-sample tayo sa mga lugar na may matataas ang kaso," added Vergeire, who is also the department's spokesperson.

[Translation: As we said, we do purposive sampling where we get samples in areas with high cases.]

The Philippine Genome Center can currently run 750 samples per week, she said.

Vergeire said that once the Philippines receives new machines, the capacity will be boosted to 1,500 samples per week.

"The Philippine Genome Center is now extending the capacity to their Visayas and Mindanao University of the Philippines network," she added.

On Sunday, Vice President Leni Robredo also said the actual number could be higher than the initial 35 recorded cases of the Delta variant, which is believed to be 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant and can cause severe symptoms.

READ: Robredo warns there could be more delta variant cases in PH

The DOH said the 11 local cases were recorded in Manila City, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Antique, and Pampanga.