Eight more people positive for COVID-19 strain

Eight more people have tested positive for a more contagious coronavirus strain, bringing the total in the Philippines to 25, according to health authorities.

In a statement on Friday, the Department of Health (DoH) said three of the eight new cases were from Bontoc, Mountain Province in the country’s north.

Two women aged 25 and 54 were close contacts of the case clusters there, while the link to the 31-year-old male was still being verified, the agency said. The 54 year-old woman had recovered, while the two were active cases.

DoH said two cases were from nearby La Trinidad, Benguet. One of them was a 15-year-old girl who did not show symptoms and is a relative of the first case reported there. The other is an 84-year-old male with no travel history and had not been in contact with a known patient with the new virus. He died on Jan. 24, the agency said.

Two more cases were returning migrant Filipinos who have recovered, DoH said. The first was a 29-year-old woman who arrived from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 7 via a Philippine Airlines flight. The second was a 54-year-old man from Talisay, Cebu.


The eighth person reported to have gotten the virus strain is a 35-year-old man with mild symptoms from Liloan, Cebu, DoH said. His exposure and travel history were still being verified.

The Health department said case investigation, contact tracing and back tracing was under way.

“Biosurveillance activities shall likewise be sustained and the succeeding whole genome sequencing activities are expected to determine the extent of transmission in areas where B.1.1.7 variant cases have been detected,” it said.

Twelve of the first 17 people infected with the new strain originally detected in the United Kingdom were from Bontoc.


DoH reported 1,894 cases on Friday, bringing the total to 533,587. The death toll rose by 61 to 11,058, while recoveries increased by 397 to 488,274, it said in a bulletin.

There were 34,255 active cases, 89% of which were mild, 6% did not show symptoms, 2.3% were critical, 2.2% were severe and 0.51% were moderate.

DoH said six duplicates had been removed from the tally, while 47 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Six laboratories failed to submit their data on Feb. 4.

More than 7.5 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of Feb. 3, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 105.5 million and killed 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About 77.1 million people have recovered, it said.

Meanwhile, DoH traced the more than 800 coronavirus deaths in the past two weeks to “data harmonization” with the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire three-quarters of the deaths were from March to October 2020.
DoH said 864 coronavirus deaths were reported from Jan. 23 to Feb. 4.

DoH and the Department of Transportation urged the public in a separate statement to observe guidelines on face masks inside vehicles.

A driver may only remove his face mask inside the vehicle when traveling alone.


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