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No Delta variant detected in the Philippines so far

THE Philippines have yet to detect any local case of the Delta variant of Covid-19 thus far.

The Philippine Genome Centre (PGC) director for health programmes, Eva Maria Cutiongco dela Paz, revealed this here, according to the Philstar.com portal.

During a briefing on Saturday, dela Paz, who is also the executive director of the National Institute of Health-University of the Philippines, said the PGC has so far sequenced 17 cases of Delta variant but none were local.

"All of them are incoming international travelers. We have not detected any local cases as of our last sequencing," she added.

Compared to other variants, the Delta variant is highly transmissible and can cause longer hospital stay, dela Paz said.

"It can easily attach to the host cells or it has the capability to evade our immune system or immune response," said.

Based on PCG's Biosurveillance Report as of June 17, a total of 17 cases of Delta variant or B.1.617.2 were detected from the 7,589 swab samples collected from Covid-19 patients.

The PGC also found 1,085 cases of Alpha variant or B.1.1.7; 1,267 cases of Beta variant or B.1.351; two cases of Gamma variant or P.1 and 163 cases of Theta variant or P.3.

Dela Paz explained the Delta variant has had three mutations, the L452R, the P681R and the T478K. Recently, a strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was detected and it was called the Delta Plus variant.

Given the ability of the Delta variant to spread, global experts are worried over the possible impact of Delta Plus variant.

She further explained the Delta Plus variant contains additional mutation called the K417N.

However, unlike the Delta variant, the World Health Organisation still does not consider Delta Plus as a variant of concern.

"All of these are in the spike protein (of the Covid-19 virus) and this K417N can possibly contribute to immune escape," she said, referring to the virus' ability to evade the body's immune response.

Dela Paz stressed because of this, the is an urgent need for strict implementation of border control to prevent the entry of Delta variant cases and for the public to follow minimum public health standards.

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