Philippines registers 1,901 new COVID-19 cases and detects two virus mutations

The Philippines Department of Health (DdS) reported 1,901 new confirmed cases of
Covid-19, bringing the total in the Southeast Asian country to 557,058.

The total death toll rose to 11,829, after 157 patients died from the disease, the DdS said, adding that 537 more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 512,789.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million people, has tested more than 7.95 million people since the viral illness emerged in January last year.

The Philippines has detected « mutations of potential clinical importance » in the virus that causes Covid-19 in samples sequenced last week in the Central Visayas region, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said on Friday.

Duque told an online news conference that health officials have stepped up containment measures in the region to prevent transmission.

The DdS has observed a « pronounced increase » in the number of cases of Covid-19 in the central region of the Philippines. Despite the rise in infections, he said the health care utilization rate in the region « remains in the safe zone. »

Duque said the increase in cases in the region cannot be attributed to mutations in the virus, adding that other factors may have contributed to the increase in transmission, such as the mobility of people.

The DdS said the currently available data is insufficient to conclude that mutations present in local samples have significantly affected public health.

« We have not reached definitive conclusions about the possible public health implications of these mutations, » Alethea de Guzmán, of the DdS Office of Epidemiology, said in an online briefing on Friday.

The executive director of the Center for Genomics of the Philippines, Cynthia Saloma, said in the same briefing that all patients in the Central Visayas region who presented with the two mutations have recovered and have come out of quarantine after showing only mild symptoms.

The DdS said that viruses naturally mutate as they reproduce.

« These mutations accumulate over time and can have different effects. However, not all mutations and variants necessarily cause negative effects, » said the DdS.

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Xinhua Source