Health Literacy

PH remains low risk for Covid-19 amid new variants

 MANILA – The Philippines remains at low risk for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) amid reports of new variants monitored abroad, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday.

  • The agency said it was in close coordination with international health authorities in monitoring newly designated Covid-19 variants.
  • “While there is an observed increase recently, it is small and lower than previously observed increases. Out of the new cases reported, seven had severe or critical disease,” the DOH said in a statement.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 Epidemiological Update on May 17 noted three new variants under monitoring (VUM) — JN.1.18, KP.2 and KP.3 — which are descendants of JN.1.
  • As of May 12, only 11 percent or 119 out of 1,117 dedicated Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) beds were occupied.
  • Only 1,238 or 13 percent of dedicated Covid-19 non-ICU beds were used.
  • Based on hospital reports in the DOH Data Collect application, severe and critical Covid-19 cases admitted in various hospitals total only 116 as of May 12.
  • About 877 new Covid-19 cases were reported, with an average of 125 cases reported per day from May 7 to 13, 2024.
  • “Five deaths were recorded, which occurred in the recent two weeks (April 30 to May 13).”
  • The DOH called on doctors, including their clinics, hospitals, and other health facilities “to accurately and immediately report cases of Covid-19, whether tested by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or rapid antigen test” as mandated by law.
  • “This will help guide public health decision-making,” the DOH said.

New variants

  • Variants KP.2 and KP.3 are also called as “FLiRT” by some researchers to describe amino acid changes in the Covid-19 virus’ spike protein.
  • The WHO observed that “there are currently no reported laboratory or epidemiological reports indicating any association between variants of interest or VUMs and increased disease severity.”
  • Earlier, the Singapore government said it is closely tracking a new wave of Covid-19 infections after its estimated count of weekly cases nearly doubled from May 5 to 11, 2024 with 25,900 cases compared with 13,700 cases in the prior period.
  • Its Ministry of Health said the new set of “FLiRT” variants account for over two-thirds of the country’s cases and the wave is expected to peak in the next two to four weeks.

Travel restrictions

  • The WHO said there is no current evidence that the KP.2 and KP.3 variants are causing severe to critical Covid-19.
  • It said further assessment is needed to determine transmissibility and capacity to evade immune response.
  • The DOH said, “there is no scientific basis for travel restrictions to any country because of an increase in Covid-19 cases.”
  • “The voluntary use of face masks should be done properly, along with standard precautions like hand washing, avoiding crowds, and choosing good airflow,” it added.
  • Those who feel ill are advised to stay at home or to wear masks properly should there be a need to go out. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency
PH remains low risk for Covid-19 amid new variants | Philippine News Agency (


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