Robredo warns there could be more delta variant cases in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 18) — Vice President Leni Robredo expressed worry over the capacity of the Philippines to detect coronavirus variants, believing the actual number of cases of the more infectious Delta variant could be more than the recorded 35.

“Very limited ang processing capacity so nag-prioritize. Pwedeng marami pa, hindi lang 35,” she said during her weekly radio show on Sunday.

[Translation: They have a very limited processing capacity so they need to prioritize. There could be more, not just 35.]

She stressed the government should bolster the capacity of the Philippine Genome Center given the emergence of new coronavirus variants, especially the Delta variant which is believed to be 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant and can cause severe symptoms.

Late in June, the center's executive director Cynthia Saloma told CNN Philippines’ The Source the PGC can currently conduct sequencing on some 750 samples a week or 36,000 samples annually.

The center, Saloma noted, only has five machines. She stressed if only the PGC has additional manpower and facilities in other parts of the country, sequence efforts would be “scaled up twice”.

On Friday, the Department of Health said it recorded 16 new cases of the Delta variant in the Philippines, 11 of which were local cases.

Robredo stressed that once this Delta variant triggers a new surge, the Philippines would be in a dark position to handle the increasing cases.

The vice president also said the government must take advantage of the 3.2 million Johnson & Johnson coronavirus shots from the COVAX facility to vaccinate Filipinos residing in areas detected with the Delta variant since the vaccine from the US company requires only one dose.

The DOH said the 11 local cases were recorded in Manila City, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Antique, and Pampanga.