Two Covid-19 cases in Apayao that are of the new P3 variant that is more transmissible, could resist immune response and may render vaccines useless has alarmed the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF) prompting the conduct of a field monitoring and intensified expanded testing in Conner town where the patients come from.
The Apayao Provincial Health Office reported on Monday that a 21-year old female from barangay Calafug and a 26-year old male municipal government employee from Malama village of Conner have contracted the P3 variant.
The two tested positive in March and have since recovered, the APHO added.
The finding has prompted the APHO to conduct retesting of all close contacts of the two former patients to determine possible cases of P3 variant transmission in said town.
The PIATF, meanwhile, will conduct field monitoring in Conner and will undertake an intensified expanded testing targeting the barangays the two former cases come from in the next two weeks.
Gov. Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, the PIATF chair, has advised the public to remain calm and continue adherence to minimum public health standards in view of this development.
As of Sunday, April 11, the Department of Health, the University of the Philippines Philippine Genome Center and National Institutes of Health has reported the detection of 170 B.1.1.7 variant cases, 192 B.1.351 variant cases, one P.1 variant case and 19 P3 variant cases among two batches of 25 samples sequenced on March 28 and 1,336 samples sequenced between March 28 to April 8.
While the P3 variant, first detected in the Visayas, has some of the characteristics of the more transmissible UK, African and Brazil variants, the DoH said that it is not yet considered as a variant of concern as current data available are insufficient to conclude that it will have significant implications to public health, something the agency and the World Health Organization are trying to ascertain.
Last Monday, the DoH – Cordillera logged five new cases in Apayao bringing the total confirmed cases to 713, the lowest in the region after Abra which has 437, according to the agency.
Apayao has 51 active cases with 658 recoveries and four deaths.
As of Monday DoH – Cordillera has logged 24,214 confirmed cases in the region, 3,271 active and 20,754 recoveries.
There are 363 Covid related deaths in the region with Baguio and Benguet topping the list with 149 and 119, respectively.