New variants account for 7% of PH cases

At least seven percent of the samples from COVID-19 cases in the country involve new variants of coronavirus, an official of the Department of Health said Monday.

“The variants account for 7 percent of our cases based on our sequenced samples. If this goes up to 50 to 60 percent, then the number of cases will jump to as much as 28 times,” DOH-Epidemiology Bureau Director Alethea de Guzman said, referring to the variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

“As of now, these variants of concern account for a very small percentage, and that is why we have to cut the transmission as soon as possible so it does not spread further,” she added.

Probe changing protocols

A party-list legislator on Monday sought a congressional investigation into what he perceived as frequent changes in testing and quarantine protocols being enforced by the government, specifically on overseas Filipino workers.

Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo filed House Resolution No. 1650 asking the House committees on Health and on Overseas Workers Affairs to probe the alleged “flip-flopping” of testing and quarantine protocols for OFWs.

“The frequently changing testing and quarantine protocols for all persons allowed entry to the Philippines has caused confusion and stress to returning Filipinos, especially to OFWs who are returning for emergency reasons, such as terminal illness or death of a family member,” Salo said.“All this confusion on the protocols is compounded by the unnecessary stress caused by voluminous declarations and documents that need to be signed by the returning Filipinos, particularly the OFWs.” he added.

Trial courts closed

The Supreme Court has approved the physical closure of several trial courts across the country as part of a measure to control the spread of COVID-19.

However, litigants can still reach them through their official hotline and email address.

The courts that will be closed include the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 61 (until March 18); Makati RTC Branch 66 (until March 19); Makati RTC Branch 143 (until March 17); Biñan City RTC Branch 25 (until all court employees’ RT-PCR test results are out); Municipal Trial Courts in Tandag, Surigao del Sur (until March 27) and San Fernando City, Pampanga Branch 4 (until March 25); and Pasay City RTC-Office of the Clerk of Court (until March 19).

In a circular, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has authorized all first and second level courts to maintain a skeleton workforce of at least 50 percent from March 15 to 24. 

Topics: COVID-19 new variants , Department of Health , DOH , United Kingdom , South Africa , Brazil
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