The Philippines records first two cases of Indian COVID-19 variant

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The Philippines health ministry said on Tuesday, it has recorded its first two cases of a COVID-19 variant first identified in India.

The World Health Organziation has classified the coronavirus variant as B.1.617, as a variant of global concern with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily.

The director of the ministry’s epidemiology bureau, Alethea De Guzman said the variant had been confirmed in two Filipino seafarers who returned in April from the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The seafarers were isolated on their return and had both recovered.

“We need to continually monitor what other variants we may be able to detect locally, as well as monitor the spread of the variants we have already detected,” De Guzman said.

The Philippines has temporarily barred travellers coming from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh from entering the country.

It has also previously recorded cases of a variant first detected in Britain and another first discovered in South Africa.

With 1.1 million infections and 18,562 deaths, the Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.


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