Philippines detects 16 additional cases of more contagious Covid-19 variant

A health worker participating in a simulation exercise for the Covif-19 vaccination activities is pictured surrounded by members of the media, at the Universidad de Manila, in Manila on Jan 19, 2021. - Reuters

MANILA, Jan 23 (Xinhua): The Philippines has detected 16 additional cases of the more contagious Covid-19 variant first found in Britain, bringing the total number of patients with the new strain in the country to 17, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday night (Jan 22).

The DOH said in a statement that 12 of the 16 additional cases are from Bontoc town in the northern Philippine Mountain Province.

Of the 12 cases, seven are male and five are female.

Town health officials immediately conducted contact tracing to contain the spread of the infection. The investigation is also underway to identify these cases' exposure and travel histories, the DOH said.

Two other patients with the variant are returning overseas Filipinos who arrived on Dec. 29, 2020, from Lebanon.

The DOH said the two other patients with the variant are local cases detected in La Trinidad town in Benguet province in the northern Philippines and Calamba City in Laguna province, south of Manila.

"Both have no known contact to any confirmed case or travel history from outside the country," the DOH added.

Of the 16 patients, the DOH said three have already recovered, 13 are active cases -- three of which are asymptomatic, and 10 are exhibiting mild symptoms.

The Philippines confirmed on Jan. 13 its first case of the new and more contagious variant in a Filipino male who arrived from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Philippines has blocked foreign travelers with recent travel history to 35 countries and regions until Jan. 31 to prevent the new strain from spreading.

The Philippines now has 509,887 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 10,136 deaths.

Both the totals are the second highest in South-East Asia behind Indonesia and among the highest in Asia. - Xinhua
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