Four more Filipinos infected with Indian variant

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RESIDENTS of Deparo in Caloocan line up for registration for their first dose of Sinovac vaccine at the Deparo Elementary school, June 21, 2021. — PHILIPPINESTAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

FOUR more Filipinos have been infected with the Indian variant of the coronavirus that has triggered a fresh surge in cases there, bringing the total to 17, Health authorities said on Monday.

Of the four, three were returning Filipino seafarers from a crew ship docked in South Korea, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a statement.

They were sent home on June 3 after testing positive for the more contagious variant of the virus, it added.

Two of the patients had completed their 10-day quarantine and were discharged, while one was still in the hospital, it said.

The fourth one is a returning migrant worker who arrived in Manila on May 24 and who had since recovered.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly worldwide,” Cynthia P. Saloma, executive director of the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center told a televised news briefing. “We can see it now in 80 countries,” she added, citing the World Health Organization.

There has been no community transmission of the Indian variant of the virus.

“So far, the Delta variant was only seen at ports of entry so there is no community transmission,” she said in mixed English and Filipino.

Manila should strictly enforce border controls to prevent the variant from spreading in communities, Ms. Saloma said.

The Delta variant is 60% more infectious, she said, noting that an infected person can transmit the virus to as many as eight people.

The Health department said 14 more people have been infected with the Alpha variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, bringing the total to 1,085.

Of the total, 12 were locals, while two were still being verified, DoH said. Two people have died from the British variant of the virus, while 12 have recovered, it said.

DoH also reported 21 new cases of the Beta variant that was first detected in South Africa, bringing the total to 1,267. Of these, 20 were locals, while one was still being verified.

Twenty people have recovered, while one was still an active case, it added.

One new case of the Theta variant was also reported, DoH said. It is still verifying whether the person infected with the virus first detected in the United States is a local or a returning migrant worker.

The Theta variant is not a “variant of concern” since DoH needs more data to conclude whether it will have significant public health implications, it said.

DoH reported 5,249 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 1.36 million.

The death toll rose by 128 to 23,749, while recoveries increased by 7,053 to 1.28 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 55,847 active cases, 1.3% of which were critical, 91.4% were mild, 4.1% did not show symptoms, 1.9% were severe and 1.32% were moderate.

The agency said 23 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 16 of which were tagged as recoveries.

DoH said 62 cases tagged as recoveries had reclassified as active cases and 45 cases that were previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Eight laboratories failed to submit data on June 19.

Meanwhile, about 8.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been given out as of June 20. Of the total, more than 6.2 million were first doses, according to government data.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said people no longer need to wear face shields outdoors. It is only required in crowded and enclosed places, he told a televised news briefing.

He earlier said President Rodrigo R. Duterte thought face shields should only be worn in hospitals.

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