THE number of coronavirus-positive specimens found to contain mutations of concern has reached 70 in Central Visayas, the Department of Health (DOH) 7 reported on Monday, March 8, 2021.
There were also five additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom, DOH 7 spokesperson Dr. Mary Jean Loreche announced.
Two were from Bohol, one from Negros Oriental and two from Cebu Province.
There was no confirmation yet of any B.1.351 variant case (South Africa) in the region, Loreche added.
She said the 70 cases with mutations were among the 361 samples that were sent in three batches to the UP Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for sequencing.
The 361 samples don’t include yet the over 100 samples forwarded to the PGC on March 8.
The first two batches of samples included 34 cases containing mutations.
The third batch sent on Feb. 18 yielded an additional 36 cases of mutations.
Mutations of concern, or mutations with potential clinical significance, is a term used by health authorities to describe a mutation of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), that is still under investigation.
Loreche said this means there is a problem with the copies made by the virus as it gets transmitted from one host to another.
The more cases there are, the greater the chance of the virus mutating, she said.
“This can either be good or bad. Good, if the virus acquires a milder form so it does not cause much damage to the person, meaning less transmission, less severity,” she said.
“Bad, if it becomes highly virulent and causes a more severe disease,” she added.
Loreche said the patients either have been discharged or have completed the quarantine period. They were also asymptomatic and have had no additional contacts who tested positive for the virus.
Lapu-Lapu health system
Meanwhile, the healthcare utilization (HCU) rate in Lapu-Lapu City has reached a critical level, according to Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Lapu-Lapu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
In a Facebook post, Bañacia said 128 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in the city from March 1 to 7.
Loreche said a health system is in a critical level when the HCU rate surpasses 70 percent.
She noted there are only a few hospitals in Lapu-Lapu City and new Covid-19 cases have been exceeding 50 a day. There were only 25 new infections in Lapu-Lapu on Monday, but cases exceeded 50 a day on March 1 as well as from March 3 to 7.
She said Bañacia’s post should raise awareness about the Covid-19 situation in Lapu-Lapu City.
Loreche noted that not all admissions need hospitalization. Those who have mild or no symptoms of Covid-19 should be pulled out of the hospitals to bring the HCU rate in Lapu-Lapu City back to the safe zone, she said.
Regionwide, the health system is still in the safe zone. Of the 830 beds allocated for Covid-19 patients, 453 were occupied and 377 were available as of March 6, she said.