In a press conference, Defensor said he suspects the presence of “foreign variants” that may have caused the spike of new cases and deaths in almost all areas of Western Visayas for the past several weeks.
As of June 10, the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) recorded 2,161 active COVID-19 cases. In that day alone, there were 200 new cases and seven new deaths logged by IPHO in Iloilo.
There were also significant spike in cases in all other provinces and cities in Western Visayas. Iloilo City, the regional capital, has been under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) status as new daily cases have been averaging around 100.
Defensor said that he will await confirmation from the Department of Health (DOH) as specimens sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) do not have any results yet and it takes an average of a month to get them.
On the other hand, Dr. Bea Camille Fillaro-Natalaray of the DOH-Region 6 (Western Visayas) said earlier this week that the four previous variants of COVID-19 were from returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs).
Natalaray noted that DOH-Region 6 is still awaiting results for the more than 200 specimens sent to the PGC.