Philippines logs 1,173 new COVID-19 cases, local transmission of new strain confirmed

MANILA, The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Tuesday 1,173 new confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 516,166.

The death toll climbed to 10,386 after 94 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 18 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 475,423.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 7.1 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

A total of 78 health care workers have succumbed to the disease as of January 24, data from the DOH showed. It said a total of 14,286 medical workers, mostly nurses, and physicians, contracted the virus.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed concern over the detection of the more contagious coronavirus strain in the Philippines.

Citing dangers posed by the mutated variant first found in Britain, Duterte reimposed the stay-at-home rule for 10 to 14-year-olds in the entire country “until everybody is safe because of the vaccine.”

“Just to be sure, and in our desire to protect our people, I was forced to reimpose 10 to 14-year-old,” he said on Monday night after meeting the inter-agency coronavirus task force in Davao City, his hometown in the southern Philippines.

Duterte was compelled to issue an order after the DOH confirmed local transmission of the mutated strain in the northern Philippines. The Philippines now has 17 cases of the new variant, 13 detected in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

“This is a precaution because there was or is a strain discovered in the Cordillera that is very similar to the strain in the United Kingdom,” Duterte said, expressing fear the new strain “strikes the young children.”

The task force recommended last week to allow minors aged 10 and up in public places starting February 1 to spur more economic activity amid the prolonged pandemic.

Duterte also voiced concern over the “still rising” COVID-19 cases in his country.

“I hope it would not reach millions because then we would be in serious trouble. We would be no better than the other countries whose rise is exponential,” Duterte said.

The DOH lauded Duterte’s order on age restrictions, saying it will give the agency “time for at least two cycles of genome sequencing with adequate representation from all regions to determine the extent of the transmission of the variant of concern.”

The DOH confirmed on Monday night local transmission of the mutated variant in the northern Philippine region.

“To date, all identified cases with the UK variant can be epidemiologically linked to cases coming directly from outside the country (importation) or from specific cases or exposures that can still be identified (local transmission),” the DOH said.

However, the agency added that it has “found no strong evidence of community transmission.”

Aside from the variant found in Britain, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH is also monitoring other coronavirus variants found in South Africa, Malaysia, and “other countries as well”.


Source: China ASEAN Business Council