Philippines reports first Brazil COVID variant as new cases surge

Tanya Simon
March 13, 2021

The department also reported 13 cases "with mutations of possible clinical significance".

It's still unclear whether the new variant in the Philippines will also be designated as a variant of concern.

The Philippine government declared the discovery of a new coronavirus strain in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Saturday, as cited by media.

It reported 59 new infections of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, and 32 cases of the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa.

Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) said that the person's coronavirus sample tested positive for E484K and N501Y mutations.

"Correct and consistent adherence to the minimum public health standards will prevent the transmission of these variants", the ministry said.

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The P.1 variant is concerning as it contains a number of mutations, "including ones that seem to make it less vulnerable to our bodies' immune response", officials said.

"Additional measures take place when a variant is identified or even suspected, such as a strict 14-day quarantine and an extended contact tracing timeframe", Dr. Paul A. Heidel, the health department's medical director, said in a statement.

Additional genomic sequencing is under way, but many specimens are not available for genomic sequencing, he said.

According to the DOH, the coronavirus mutation was named P.3, and 98 cases associated with this variant have been registered across the Philippines so far. The strain includes three mutations, E484K, K417T, and N501Y, similar to a separate variant initially detected in South Africa.

MI had reported 562 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant as of March 11, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

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