A man who arrived in Japan from the Philippines in February was infected with a new variant of the novel coronavirus, the health ministry said Friday, in the first confirmation of such a case.
The Philippines, which has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, is battling a renewed surge as it ramps up a vaccination drive that started on March 1.
The Department on Health on Saturday confirmed that a new coronavirus variant called P.3 has been traced to the country but stressed that there's not enough evidence to say whether it is a cause for concern. "They've come back to us and told us na ito nga ay bagong variant". A total of 34 cases have been confirmed in the country so far. The PGC found it in the samples of an overseas Filipino worker who returned from Brazil and hails from Western Visayas.
Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) said that the person's coronavirus sample tested positive for E484K and N501Y mutations.
The DOH also noted that of the 32 B.1.351 variant cases, "21 are local cases, one is an ROF, and 10 are still being verified as to location". This brings cases for those variants to 177 and 90, respectively.
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The World Health Organisation has been informed of the cases, which have been designated "of concern" as it shares key mutations with the variant detected in South Africa.
Thirty of the United Kingdom variant cases are local cases - 16 from auto, 10 from Metro Manila, and two each from Central Luzon and Calabarzon.
"Of the additional 59 B.1.1.7 variant cases, 30 are local cases, 18 are ROFs, and 11 are now being verified if they are local or ROF cases", the DOH said.
"If we let down our guard, these variant strains will make us pay", said Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health - Seattle & King County, in a statement.