The DOH released a statement about the COVID-19 variant first detected in India.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday officially released a statement about the COVID-19 variant first detected in India.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Health clarified that based on the technical definitions set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 variant first detected in India (B.1.617 variant) was classified as a “variant under investigation (VUI)” and not as a “variant of concern (VOC)”.
The health department’s clarification was made in response to the headline “Duque: No travel ban for now as India variant not yet one ‘of concern’” falsely conveying that a travel ban had not been imposed in the Philippines because Health Secretary Francisco Duque III didn’t consider the COVID-19 variant as a matter of utmost importance.
According to DOH, the statements were made in response to two different questions.
Duque had clarified in the interview that the travel restrictions for Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were yet to be discussed in the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) while existing travel restrictions for foreigners had been in place since the beginning of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for NCR+ Bubble.
Meanwhile, when asked about the characteristics of the said variant, Duque said that the B.1.617 variant had not satisfied the WHO criteria for it to be classified as a “variant of concern”.
Despite this, the Department of Health continued to monitor the said variant — along with all other COVID-19 variants — in order to ensure immediate and appropriate response.