Possible entry of COVID-19 variant from India ‘potentially devastating’ - OCTA fellow

The possible entry of the so-called Indian variant in the country could potentially be devastating, a member the OCTA Research Team warned Thursday, May 6.

“This is potentially devastating because if we let it spread in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its surrounding area, we will see another surge just like what we have seen in the past month,” OCTA Research fellow Prof. Guido David said in a CNN Philippines interview.

While the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases is decreasing, David said that Metro Manila cannot afford another surge in infection as the healthcare utilization rate remains high.

“We are happy to report that we are recovering nicely in the NCR. Cases are going down. The reproduction number has decreased to 0.74 in NCR,” he said.

“But at this point, the case level still significant and hospitals are still basically have high occupancies so we cannot really afford another surge at this point in time,” he added.

The expert said the number of cases in the metropolis is on a “downward trend” but he noted that the trend is “still relatively unstable” as the some areas have not seen a significant downward trend in cases over the past few weeks.

The Philippines has imposed a travel ban from India on April 27 as a preventive measure to prevent the entry of the variant in the country. The ban covers travelers coming from India and those with travel history to India within the last 14 days before the restriction.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday said five people with a travel history from India have tested positive for COVID-19, while 137 of them tested negative.

“Among those who tested positive, one is still in isolation while the disposition of the four patients are being verified. Samples from these positive cases are currently being determined if they are adequate for sequencing,” the DOH said in a statement.

As of date, the so-called Indian coronavirus variant, which has been tagged a “double mutant” because of the presence of two mutations in the spike protein of the virus, has not yet been detected in the country, health officials earlier said.