Medical experts have discovered the presence of at least two mutations of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Cebu, the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas said on Thursday.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH-7 chief pathologist and regional spokesperson on coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), said the agency is now placing these “mutations of concern” under bio-surveillance.
The new mutations coded as E484K and N501Y could be a reason for the continued spike of Covid-19 cases in Cebu, she said.
“The two mutations are now what we call as variants under investigation,” Loreche said during a virtual presser organized by the DOH-7 and Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV).
She said the presence of two mutated coronaviruses was discovered from the 37 samples belonging to Covid-19 patients. These patients under isolation were earlier suspected to have been infected with the B.1.1.7, commonly known as the UK variant.
She said out of the 50 samples subjected for genomic sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center, 37 were positive for the two new mutations.
“These two mutations of concern are also of global concern. Not only for us in Central Visayas,” Loreche said, noting that these are the kind of mutations related to increased transmissibility.
The agency has monitored five or more members of a family being tested positive for Covid-19, she added.
DOH-7 regional director Jaime Bernadas said they still needed further surveillance and epidemiological investigations.
The DOH-7, he said, will conduct entire genomic sequencing to establish the nature of the mutated coronaviruses before they can assign more appropriate names for them.
Bernadas assured the public that the agency is doing containment measures “to prevent rapid spread and transmission” of the mutated SARS-CoV-2 which causes the Covid-19.
As of Wednesday, the Central Visayas region has 534 new cases, of whom 245 are from Cebu City and 113 from Cebu province.
The cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue have 93 and 70 new cases, respectively.
Bohol has 10 new cases, Negros Oriental, two and Siquijor, one.
The region has a total of 5,240 active cases with 2,668 coming from Cebu City and 1,029 from Cebu province.
Lapu-Lapu City has 466 total active cases while Mandaue City has 623.
Negros Oriental now has a total of 308 active infections; Bohol, 129; and Siquijor, 17.
The region has, however, a total of 27,476 recoveries, with 361 of them reported on Wednesday. (PNA)