MANILA: The Philippines has recorded the country’s first locally transmitted cases of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, the health ministry said on Friday (Jul 16), with one person dying from the disease.
Of the 16 new COVID-19 cases found to have contracted the Delta variant, 11 were tagged as locally acquired cases, health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a news conference.
One person had died after being rushed to a hospital in the capital Manila on Jun 28, Vergeire said.
Five of those who tested positive were Filipinos returning from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the United Kingdom.
READ: Philippine COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy drops as safety concerns ebb – poll
Philippine authorities have been scrambling to try and stop the variant from spreading in the community after it has triggered an upsurge in infections across the region.
The variant, first detected in India, has been blamed as the key factor for the spike in cases in neighbouring countries including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
A ban on travellers from Indonesia came into effect on Friday. It will last until Jul 31, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Wednesday.
A shipment of 3.2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine from the US began on Thursday, potentially easing the Philippines’ distribution as the one-shot vaccine does not have to be refrigerated, unlike some others.
A survey earlier this month showed the number of Filipinos willing to get inoculated has also grown in recent months as safety concerns ebbed.
The Philippines so far has administered at least 13,442,299 doses, enough for just 6.2 per cent of its population based on a two-dose regimen, according to Reuters data.
A total of 1,485,457 infections and 26,232 coronavirus-related deaths have been registered in the country since the pandemic began.
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