As the country faces a growing surge in Covid19 infections, the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) and independent research group OCTA, have raised alarm and are calling for more stringent measures in order to slow down the growing infection trend, and prevent newer variants from spreading further.
Within recent weeks the number of daily cases recorded has surpassed those during the pandemic’s peak in August last year. On March 15, the highest recorded number of new infections to date, was tallied at 5,404.
OCTA group member Ranjit Rye, in a recent televised interview, said that the increasing rate of infection is apparent and may be attributed to the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that have been detected in the country.
The Department of Health (DOH) recently confirmed detection of a new variant of the Covid19 causing virus, in Central Visayas, and has named it P.3 to distinguish it from other strains. The PGC has identified a total of 98 cases thus far.
Meanwhile, the country’s first case of the Brazil SARS-CoV-2 variant was also detected, as cases of other variants continue to rise.
Rye further stated in the interview that with stricter quarantine protocols that limit mobility, and reduce the number of individuals in mass gatherings, the possibility of mitigating the surge and spread may still be achievable.
Fellow OCTA member Guido David also mentioned in the interview, that if stricter measures are not enforced, the country may face up to 7,000 new cases daily. He further reiterated the need for better biosurveillance, in order to determine if the surge is indeed driven by the newer variants.
Multiple local government units (LGUs) have since imposed granular lockdowns in areas with rising cases, to contain spreading.
The PGC echoes the call for more stringent measures: “The potential public health implications of the mutations call for strengthened measures to prevent the spread of P.3 to nearby islands of the archipelago and to other countries,” it said in a bulletin.
Although not yet considered as a variant of concern (VOC) by the DOH, the P.3 strain presents mutations seen before, but never all at once.
A study on the current findings of P.3 by the DOH, PGC, and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), has been uploaded to medRxiv, a preprint server for health sciences.
The Covid19 pandemic has gripped the country for over a year now, with the total number of cases as of March 15, at 626,893.