(UPDATE) The Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed the Philippines' first two cases of the COVID variant first detected in India, where an out-of-control surge has made the South Asian nation the world's new pandemic epicenter.
The B.1.617, said to be responsible for the record COVID-19 surge in India, has been identified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization.
"Tayo po ay may dalawang kaso na naitala," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters. The two oveseas Filipino workers (OFW) who came from the Middle East are asymptomatic and have recovered from COVID. They do not have history of travel to India.
The 37-year-old Filipino from Oman arrived on April 10 and quarantined in a hotel in Metro Manila. He recovered on April 26 and is now in Soccsksargen. The 58-year-old seafarer arrived in the Philippines on April 19, and isolated at a facility in Clark. He recovered on May 6 and is currently in Bicol.
Available data suggests "increased transmissibility" of the B.1.617 variant, said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's lead on COVID-19.
The variant from India will be added to the list containing three other variants of COVID-19 -- those first detected in Britain, Brazil, and South Africa -- which the WHO has classified as being "of concern".
-- With reports from Agence France Presse