DOH reports 52 new cases of South African COVID-19 variant

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, March 5, reported 52 additional cases of the South African variant of COVID-19, bringing the total cases of this virus type in the country to 58.

In a statement sent to media, the DOH said that "samples comprising this run came from the National Capital Region (NCR), Region 7, and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) in response to the increased number of cases in these areas."

The DOH said that of the 52 new cases, 41 have indicative addresses in NCR, while 11 cases are being verified whether these are local cases or ROFs.

"One case from NCR has recovered, while the remaining 51 cases are currently tagged as active and are being managed," it said.

Experts said that the South African variant called B1351 is more infectious than the original version of the virus and may have an impact on vaccine efficacy.

31 new cases of UK variant

Meanwhile, the DOH also reported 31 new cases of the United Kingdom (UK) variant of COVID-19, which is also more infectious than the original version of the virus – pushing the country's total infections with this virus type to 118.

The health department added that 28 of the new cases have indicative addresses in NCR, while 3 cases are being verified whether these are local cases or ROFs.

All 31 are active cases, it added.

According to the DOH, 42 cases with "mutations of potential clinical significance" were also reported. Of these, 34 have indicative addresses in Central Visayas, 6 have indicative addresses in NCR, and 2 cases are being verified whether these are local cases or ROFs.

"Twenty-two of the 34 cases from Region 7 are now recovered. Meanwhile, the remaining 12 Region 7 cases, all 6 NCR cases, and both cases being verified are tagged as active cases," it added.

The DOH said that these mutations are the N501Y and E484K.

The E484K mutation is present in the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Meanwhile, the N501Y mutation is also found both in the UK and South African variants.

This development comes after the country began legally rolling out COVID-19 vaccines with donated doses from China.

The Philippines' daily positivity rate – or the percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed that are actually positive – hit 9.16% on Wednesday, March 3, according to Rappler monitoring.

It was the highest rate recorded since September 18, 2020, when the country logged 9.23%.

The pandemic has so far infected over 115 million people globally. In the Philippines, a total of 584,667 cases have been recorded as of March 4, with 12,404 deaths and 535,037 recoveries.

The country has 37,226 active cases. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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