By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

Bureau of Quarantine at the international arrival area of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has directed the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) to thoroughly screen points of entry for visitors from countries where new Covid-19 variants have been detected.

DOH spokesperson Albert Domingo said the BOQ issued Bureau Memorandum No. 2024-48 on May 24 placing all its stations and other concerned agencies under “heightened alert for KP.2 and KP.3 variants”.

“The BOQ, as directed by Secretary (Teodoro) Herbosa, is conducting thorough screening for symptoms of Covid-19, among others,” Domingo said.

“We appreciate the public’s heightened interest in BOQ operations to protect our population.”

The KP.2 and KP.3 variants are descendants of JN.1 together with JN.1.18, according to the World Health Organization.

The Singapore government said it had monitored a new wave of Covid-19 infections after its estimated count of weekly cases nearly doubled from May 5 to 11, 2024 with 25,900 cases compared with 13,700 cases in the prior period.

About two-thirds of the new cases are due to the new variants.

Last week, the DOH said the Philippines remains at low risk for the new variants despite the slight increase in cases was observed with an average of 125 cases reported per day from May 7 to 13, 2024.

Infectious disease expert and Philippine College of Physicians president Rontgene Solante said the public need not be alarmed by the new Covid-19 variants as these pose low health risks.

These variants only present upper respiratory tract manifestations — slight cough, slight sore throat, phlegm, sometimes body pains — which are mostly mild and self-limiting symptoms. (PNA)