Philippines logs 1,960 new COVID-19 cases, more cases of variants detected

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MANILA, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Saturday 1,960 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 547,255.

The death toll climbed to 11,507 after 12 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. It added 133 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 500,781.

The Philippines, with a population of 110 million, has tested over 7.77 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

The DOH has confirmed the detection of 19 additional COVID-19 cases for the more contagious coronavirus variant first found in Britain, raising the number of cases in the country to 44.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Saturday that there is no enough evidence to prove that there is a community transmission of the variant in the Philippines amid the discovery of more cases.

"There is still not sufficient evidence to say that (the variant) is spreading. That is why we are continuously monitoring (the transmission)," Vergeire told a televised press conference.

The DOH confirmed the first case of the new variant in the country on January 13.

Butch Ong of the independent OCTA Research Group said on Saturday that the reproduction or R number in Metro Manila and the country remains "steady, hovering at around 1" since January despite the detection of the variant.

"We are in a precarious balance. The number of cases could go up or down depending on how we implement the minimum health standards," Ong said in a televised briefing.

Ong called for vigilance following the government's plans to ease coronavirus restriction rules such as opening businesses including cinemas, museums, parks, and video and interactive arcades in Metro Manila and other areas under general community quarantine and the threat of mutated variants.

Ong said Metro Manila, home to an estimated 13 million people, is still the epicenter of the outbreak. Enditem

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