THE Department of Health yesterday said there is not enough data yet to support the conclusion that the three Chinese tourists who visited the Philippines early this year were not responsible for bringing the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in the country.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire called for caution in interpreting the recent findings of the state-run Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, which identified two major SARS-CoV-2 lineages that originated in China, lineages A and B, and six other sub-lineages each from samples collected in Metro Manila, Ilocos Sur, Rizal, Laguna and Bohol.
“Kailangan nating i-interpret with caution kasi iyong napag-aralan ng RITM, maliit na portion pa lang ng population, it was done in… hindi ganoong karaming places. Because the sample is still small and area [where it was done] is limited, it is not conclusive yet for us to have an accurate conclusion. Kailangan i-further pa ang pag-aaral. We need more details before we can actually say na hindi iyong mga Chinese ang nag-spread ng infection at nagkaroon ng tayo ng ibang pinanggalingan ng infection natin,” she said.
The first COVID-19 cases in the country — the three Chinese tourists — were recorded in January, but community transmission only started in March, prompting the government to impose border lockdowns and suspend non-essential work to prevent mass gathering and subsequently, prevent virus transmission.
The varying lockdowns brought about by quarantine protocols have already left around 27 million people unemployed, according to a recent Social Weather Stations survey.
The Philippines has recorded 202,361 COVID-19 cases so far. Of this number, 133,460 recovered while 3,137 died.
The number of active COVID-19 cases is at 65,764.