WHO raises concern over spread of COVID-19 variants in parts of PH, sees 'transmission within communities'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23)— The World Health Organization on Friday raised concern over the spread of the more contagious COVID-19 variants in parts of the Philippines, adding that evidence points to "transmission within communities" in some areas.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said health officials are "particularly concerned" about the presence of the B.1.1.7 and the B.1.351 variants, which were first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, respectively.

"We do know that there are circulating in the NCR (National Capital Region), and in some regions outside of the NCR bubble," Abeyasinghe told News Night.

"So we are concerned about the circulation of variants. We have seen evidence over the weeks of increasing numbers of confirmed variants within the NCR," he added. "And this points to transmission within communities of these variants."

Aside from the B.1.1.7 and the B.1.351 variants, the Philippines had also detected cases of the P.1 variant which first emerged in Brazil, and the P.3 variant first discovered in the country but is not yet classified as a variant of concern.

The Health Department on Sunday said there are 266 more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 351 cases of the B.1.351 variant, and 25 additional cases of the P.3 variant in the country.