The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Sunday 1,888 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 561,169.
The death toll climbed to 12,088 after 20 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said, adding that 9,737 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 522,843, the Xinhua news reported.
The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested over 8 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.
On Sunday, the DOH reported an additional 18 Filipinos that tested positive for the more contagious coronavirus variant first found in Britain, bringing cases in the country to 62.
The DOH said 13 of the recent 18 cases were returning overseas Filipinos and three are the residents of a region in the northern Philippines. All 16 patients have recovered, the DOH added.
The DOH said it is verifying whether the remaining two cases were locals or returning overseas workers.
The DOH confirmed the first case of the new variant in the country on January 13.
The DOH also said it had detected an additional three mutations found in the central Philippines in another batch of samples sequenced from the Central Visayas region, raising the country’s number of mutations to 34.
The DOH earlier confirmed that it had detected “mutations of concern” in 31 samples in the Central Visayas region. However, it said the data is insufficient to make “definitive conclusions about the potential public health implications of the mutations.”
The DOH planned to submit the new findings to the World Health Organization and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data “to aid in the ongoing global effort to track and study new and emerging genomic changes SARS-COV-2 virus.”
The DOH expressed hope that vaccine manufacturers can use the data to recalibrate vaccines and ensure efficacy against Covid-19.
The DOH called on the Central Visayas region where cases “with the variant of concern and mutations with potential clinical significance” have been detected to closely monitor their respective local situations.
“Implement measures such as localised lockdowns, active case finding, immediate contact tracing, and isolation-quarantine,” the DOH said, stressing the need to “immediately flag sharp upticks in cases to the DOH to activate targeted biosurveillance activities.”
The government is studying whether to place the country under the lowest quarantine level starting March 1 to revive the pandemic-hit economy despite detecting the fast-spreading variants and mutations.