MANILA, BUDAPEST: The Philippines on Saturday reported a spike in coronavirus infections and its first case of the highly contagious variant first identified in Brazil, while confirming nearly 100 infections of a new variant discovered locally.
A Filipino returning from Brazil tested positive for the P.1 Brazil variant after 752 samples were sequenced at the genome center, the Health Ministry said.
It also reported that 98 cases were of the similar P.3 variant first detected in the Southeast Asian country early this month.
The ministry reported 5,000 new coronavirus cases, the largest single-day increase in more than six months, and 72 additional deaths. Confirmed cases have increased to 616,611 while confirmed deaths have reached 12,766.
“At present, the P.3 is not identified as a variant of concern as current available data are insufficient to conclude whether the variant will have significant public health implications,” the ministry said.
It reported 59 new infections of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in Britain, and 32 cases of the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa. This brings cases for those variants to 177 and 90, respectively.
“Correct and consistent adherence to the minimum public health standards will prevent the transmission of these variants,” the ministry said.
The Philippines, which has the second-highest COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, is battling a renewed surge as it ramps up a vaccination drive that started on March 1.
Meanwhile, Hungary reported a record-breaking day of new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, and the number of patients being treated in the country’s hospitals also reached a new high.
Health authorities announced 9,444 new confirmed cases, more than 1,000 more than the previous record set on Friday. The jump came amid a rapid spread of a coronavirus variant first discovered in the UK.
The outbreak has put a strain on Hungary’s health care system. Officials reported the hospitalization of 179 more COVID-19 patients, bringing the national total to a record high of 8,897
Hungary has the second-highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the 27-nation EU, underpinned by the acquisition of vaccines from Russia and China as well as the EU. Officials say they plan to have all people over age 60 vaccinated by Easter.
Separately, new cases in the Netherlands reached their highest level since mid-January, with more than 6,396 cases in 24 hours, data released on Saturday showed.
The figures published by the National Institute for Health (RIVM) follow several weeks of stability. The RIVM has said it expects a third wave of infections driven by variant strains of the coronavirus.
The rise in cases comes as the country prepares to go to the polls next week for parliamentary elections spread out over three days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because of coronavirus safety measures.
The country has registered a total of 1,151,218 cases and 16,046 deaths in the pandemic. The Netherlands has been under lockdown since late January with a ban on gatherings of more than two people, restaurants and bars shut and the first nighttime curfew in place since World War II.