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A New Variant of COVID-19 Has Been Discovered in the Philippines

Duque says we should stop calling it ‘Philippine Variant.’
IMAGE JEROME ASCAÑO
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The world has a new variant of COVID-19, and it was first discovered in the Philippines. The Department of Health confirmed the news on March 13. But according to health secretary Francisco Duque III, people should stop calling it “Philippine variant” because it is discriminatory. 

“The World Health Organization discourages the use of places to identify variants. The so-called U.K. and South African variants were tagged so because these variants were first reported in these countries," the DOH said in a statement. 

Instead, the DOH insists on calling the unique variant discovered in the Philippines as “P.3.” To date, the DOH has recorded at least 85 cases of P.3

In an online media briefing, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, member of the DOH technical advisory group and head of the PGH’s, said they submitted samples of the new variant to the Phylogenetic Assignment of Named Global Outbreak Lineages (PANGOLIN), the world’s reporting system for COVID-19 mutations. 

“We were waiting for PANGOLIN to let us know kung ito nga ba ay unique to the Philippines or natuklasan na sa ibang bansa,” Ong-Lim said. “They've come back to us and told us na ito nga ay bagong variant.”

‘New Variant Not a Cause of Concern’

Despite a new unique variant arising in the country, the DOH says it is not a cause of concern because there is not enough evidence that says it is a deadlier and more viral variant. 

According to the DOH, they need more data that will indicate P.3 is more transmissible or causes more severe symptoms. 

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5,000 Cases Recorded on March 13, Brazil Variant Enters PH

On the same day P.3 was confirmed by the DOH, it aslo announced it had recorded 5,000 COVID cases in a day and confirmed the first case of the Brazil COVID variant as it battles a fresh surge just days since the anniversary of the first lockdown.

The Department of Health reported 5,000 cases, bringing the running total to 616,611. Also on Saturday, the DOH reported 72 deaths and 281 recoveries. There are 56,579 active cases.

It was the highest single-day infections in 2021, breaking the record set in the previous day of over 4,500 cases. Until late last week, the Philippine reported 1,500 to 2,000 daily infections.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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