The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed the presence of COVID-19’s Delta variant in the Philippines on Monday (June 21). 

The health agency shared that the more infectious variant of the coronavirus has afflicted 13 people in the country leaving one dead. However, others who caught the variant have now recovered.

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergerie, the cases were detected early thanks to the country’s border control. 

“From how we have analyzed it, our border controls are working because we were able to detect all of these 13 [cases] from incoming travelers or workers or Filipino residents coming home,” she said in an interview with ANC’s Rundown.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is being considered a threat around the world for its enhanced transmissibility and severe symptoms. 

The virus was first identified in India and caused the second surge of the virus in the country, which devastated its citizens as well as its health care system. 

To prevent the further spread of the virus in the Philippines, the national government has extended its travel bans for travelers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman – places where the Delta variant is present.

Vergeire said the DOH is counting on the strict border control of the country to curb the spread of the new COVID-19 variant. 

“What we are banking on would be our… border control protocols where we think that we are adequately preventing the entry [of variants],” she said.

Last week on June 18, the country recorded its highest active cases count in six weeks, which the DOH attributed to the rise of cases in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

Another point of concern that Vergeire revealed is the lack of genome sequencing kits in the country, which has significantly slowed down the identification of COVID-19 variants in the country. 

However, Vergeire assured the public that new kits will be arriving this week.

“What would be good is we are going to receive our reagents this week. It’s going to be arriving Monday or Tuesday and this is going to give us this reagents until the end of the year,” she explained.

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Image credit: Radoslav Zilinsky via Getty Images