MANILA — Although the Department of Health (DOH) reports 19 new cases of coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, the agency affirms there is no proof of it spreading further anywhere else in the country. B1.1.7 is the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. It is also known as as the UK variant.
“There is still no sufficient evidence to say that it is spreading or that its transmission has reached that level,” says DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire in a briefing on state-run People’s Television.
“That’s why we are continuously studying and we are continuously monitoring,” she adds.
Of the 19 new B.1.1.7 cases, it is discovered that three have no known links to each other despite them hailing from the same region. The DOH reported detecting the first B.1.1.7 case on 13 January and admitted that the new variant had been in the country nearly a month before its announcement. A sample collected on 10 December tested positive for the mutated virus.
The Government has eased travel restrictions on foreigners and has refused to impose a new travel despite the lingering threat of the new variants. No other variant has been detected in the Philippines apart from the UK variant.
Earlier reported as more contagious than other forms of the virus, and could be deadlier, according to UK prime minister Boris Johnson, the B.1.1.7 variant has shown no such result. It is still premature to conclude so, says DOH. But experts consistently warn the public that any increase in transmission of the new variant will lead to more people infection and illness. Such a sight could overwhelm the country’s health system. (JSM/JuanManila)