November 26, 2022

The Philippine government is monitoring the new Covid-19 variant B11529 that already has cases in South Africa, acting Presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles said.

Nograles said members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Health are widely aware of the variant described by experts as “heavily mutated”.

“We are intently monitoring this situation. We continue to conduct our genomic surveillance on the ground,” Nograles said.

He added the government is constantly exchanging information with the World Health Organization about the possible threat of the newly detected variant.

“We are waiting their advisories if this variant is considered a variant of interest or a variant of concern,” Nograles said.

Dana Krizia Sandoval, spokesperson of the Bureau of Immigration, said in another interview that various systems are in place once the IATF sees the need to adjust the travel restrictions caused by emerging Covid-19 variants.

“Once the IATF gives its directive to change it, we will immediately implement it and we have sufficient manpower to augment these needs,” she added.

Sandoval said they are strictly enfor-cing health protocols and social distancing measures in all entry and exit points to make sure that travelers are safe when passing through the immigration area.

In a Bloomberg report published on Nov. 26, scientists believed the B11529 variant carries a high number of mutations in its spike protein, which plays a key role in the virus’ entry into cells in the body.

Experts have yet to determine whether the new variant is more transmissible or more lethal than previous ones. – PNA