MANILA, July 3 (Mabuhay) –Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday said there are no local cases of the more dangerous Delta variant in the Philippines yet.

“So far, walang local case ng Delta variant based sa Philippine Genome Center sa whole genome sequencing as part ng biosurveillance,” Duque said.

“Sila (PGC) ang nagsasabi sa atin kung nakapasok na or limitado lang sa ating mga returning overseas Filipinos or [overseas Filipino Workers],” he added.

Duque attributed this to the country’s strict border control and quarantine protocols.

Last Thursday, Duque said experts were studying a possible ban on travelers from Indonesia over the threat of the Delta coronavirus variant.

This followed the Philippine government’s announcement that it has extended its travel restrictions on travelers from United Arab Emirates, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Oman, Nepal and Bangladesh until July 15 due to the more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Last July 1, the Philippines also reduced the quarantine period for arriving Filipinos who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to seven days from the standard 10-day period. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said this shortened quarantine period will cover those coming from “green” or low-risk countries and those countries with a trustworthy process in issuing certificate of vaccination.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday vouched for stricter border control instead of expanding the travel ban over the more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant first discovered in India.

The Philippines has so far detected 17 Delta variant cases, all of whom are returning overseas Filipinos.

An expert earlier explained that the Delta variant is more transmissible, manifests different symptoms than the original coronavirus, and increases the likelihood of hospitalization.

On Friday, the Philippines tallied 6,192 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total cases to  1,424,518. (MNS)

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